Exhalation of a Pine Wood in Winter

In the deep shadow of the wood,
ice-bound needles clink together.
Cold wind blows away the piney odor
for a moment, and by its absence reminds me
that it is always there on the edge of this wood;
oozing through the air like pitch,
slow and sticky, never subtle.
It invites inward to where sky is
fractured into small bits of gray and the ground
cross-hatched by years of shed leaves and dropped branches.
The scurry of vole, the rustle of owl,
the furtive tracks of rabbit—
all of these fade beneath the palpable presence,
breath-of-pine saying, “Seek what is lost.”