warm winter

I did not have a name for them, at first.
They came with winter at their heels
Leaving paw prints in the snow
Tiny tracks to trace a path
Toward my front porch.

A gray one, with white socks - toe socks on the front paws
Knee socks on the back
With crystal green eyes
And a sweet, comfortable look
Like he knew you’d be all right, even if you didn’t
So I called him Sugar.

An orange tabby, burly and snaggletoothed
All muscle
With a stubby tail
Though he seemed to know his shortcomings
In the realm of appearances
He walked as though he also knew
Us better than we knew ourselves
And so I called him Marmalade.

Then, the black and white one
Patches in the snow
Her coat was long, luxurious
With ice crystals hanging off the ends
She pounced upon the frozen blades of grass
(they never saw her coming)
With her spots and freckled nose
I called her Chocolate Chip.

The three of them, they were the first
To shelter in the warmth
Of my cabin, tall and logged.
I opened the back door when they appeared
Like wood sprites, eyes gleaming
With winter’s tales
And we sat together by the fire
Where they seemed to melt into one another
Fur and paws and sleepy eyes
Before they went on their way.
Perhaps they did not know much warmth
Perhaps they did not know anyone at all
But for a moment, we shared the space
Of cozy rugs and fireplace
And slept inside the living room
While outside, winter whistled away.