Vermillion in the Snow


My son’s forehead burns
beneath my palm
cough rattling his tiny chest

I press my lips to his temple

small mittened hand in mine
our boots sink into verdant moss
mottled with ice

we crouch to eye
zombie antlers, lichen
bursting from the ground

snowfall drifts through branches needled evergreen
ancient forest sinking
into winter sleep

fern fronds waterfall
down the embankment

vermilion in the snow
a mountain ash tree glows
heavy with scarlet berries

a curious dove casts a glance our way
ruffled cozy in feather down
nibbles at a berry

slowly, the feverish heave of his chest
to the drum of my heart beat

my son tosses fitful
but finally
he sleeps