Dewdrops hang at surprisingly regular intervals
on the red willow branches this morning.
In spring the color will soften to pink, but for now,
like the weak smudge of sun refined into a single strong spark of light in each cold drop,
the stems in winter, reduced, concentrated, tend toward dazzling red, set against gray.
It takes me some time to realize that the beads of water did not space themselves this way,
like a string of luminous pearls evenly knotted,
but instead are gathered at each node of the branches.
It’s the living tree which is putting on the show, and not the inert elements.
There is rhythm and color in life, even in its dormancy.
In the expensive riot which will follow months from now,
these nodes will fold out into extravagant leaves and new branches in their own rights.
But for now they are just barely swollen enough to attract a magnifying glass of sun
and bring down a little light right on top of themselves, wrapped inside a crystal ball,
quietly hoarding all their riches within.
That is lesson enough for me on this short day.