Feathers, Vatican-red, flit among the branches
of a juniper tree. Cardinals eat the blue berries.
January diamond-dusts the tips of branches—
tiny diadems reflecting sun’s climb in eastern sky.
The Cherokee believe words spoken toward the east
will make it all the way to God.
A cardinal’s whistle attracts a mate, just one for life.
Together, they fiercely care for their young. She sings
to let him know to bring food to the nest. Gabriel
blows her trumpet. Like the bird, a messenger
from the spirit world, an answer to prayer,
even those from Cardinals in Rome.
The cardinal’s crimson, a reminder
for us to keep the faith. Red against the snow—
like blood against the pale
skin of Jesus, for a covenant eight days after his birth,
and then another, three days before our redemption,
the cross lifted, its scarlet the only stain against a pure, white sky.
BIO: Patricia Hope is an award-winning writer with dozens of published works in magazines, anthologies, newspapers, and journals. Recent publications include Liquid Imagination, Issue 35 and Southern Writers, July-Aug 2018. Her novel, Lonely Way Back Home, was published in 2017.