Sestina for a Far-Off Farmhouse

There are times I’ve arrived to find somebody
has been here, raided it, trashed the place.  Or water
has tricked the roof, creating interior weather.  
Once the front door dropped a pane, waved in winter.
I had to shoo an upstart family of robins
who cursed me all the way to the creek.

That first April I took a bath in the creek,
submerged in a pool, current run along my body.
When I emerged my head was as clear as the robin’s.
Someone said, “You know we turned the house’s water
on?”  I thought of trees dressing after winter
when a skink appeared, rejoicing in the weather.

Today, March first. While shortstops train in grapefruit weather
I spray purple paint, burn cedar, fish beer cans from the creek.
Ticks hide out in leaf litter, waiting out winter.
In a month they’ll fling themselves onto a passing body.
When the wood-stove kettle hisses with tea-ready water
I think, “If only I could fly here, like the robins.”

I go out to scavenge more kindling, retweeting robins
whose red breasts color up grey weather.
What do they want with all this water?
I lean along the front door-frame, gazing out toward the creek.
A day passes and I see nobody
though bare trees reveal neighboring hills in winter.

Late-thirties, looming snow, last laugh of winter.
The morning was wrapped in frost but I woke to song, a robin’s.
I lit a fire in the stove, to warm this creaking body
wond’ring why I crave this place, regardless of the weather.
Under the road flows the Little Tavern Creek
as cattle low, a heron hunts, its ankles part the water.

I have been in the pump room, turning off the water.
Tonight here ceded, I’m leaving soon, tip o’ the cap to winter
which drinks with growing fangs of ice along the creek.
When it snows, I ask aloud, where will the robins
go?  The house will stand upright, push against the weather
and open up its door to a brightly feathered body.

A new frail body grasps a subtle shift of weather,
hears ancient water gurgle its way from spring to creek,
breaks through the blue shell of winter, becomes at last a robin.