I crouch beside the fire ring with hands outstretched,
doggedly seeking warmth from its circle of snow.
As the snowpack melts, little dark targets
appear on the laurel leaves.
I call it the coal pox.
Power plants a hundred miles to the west
seed the clouds with nitric & sulfuric acid.
The rain burns & the snow burns, too.
The soil turns toxic with heavy metals.
A feral housecat walks a crooked mile through the woods,
sidestepping the patches of old snow.
Long after she passes, a squirrel continues to scold,
his tail on the branch behind him like a furious mime
or a question mark come quivering to life.