“They’re lost,” he says,
puffing a long stream from the corner of his mouth
out into the clouds that surround us.
A group of birds are gathering in the tree,
whose boney February structure pokes
through the thin spots of fog that’s thick and close as a stuffy nose.
They shriek above us, out of the whiteness,
so white it might as well be black, like a negative of nighttime.
Every once in a while one lunges out into a clear patch,
the way the ant drowning in my coffee surfaces sporadically
and always misses the grasping swoop of my spoon.
“Help!” it cries to its companions, who wait together in the same confusion.
I can see the distant form of someone trudging,
enclosed like Michael and me in his own little bubble of damp, see-through air,
just another part of the solitude we’re all soaked in.
He drops his butt into a slushy island of remaining snow with all the others,
some stuck in little nicotine-stained depressions,
some fallen down, soggy and limp, leaking tobacco clumps
like dollars lost from a holey pocket.
They lay piled together there, huddled like survivors waiting for rescue,
but I just stomp out the little orange spot and scold him for not doing it himself.