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Winter rain

I Through the night the quiet rain persists, falling gentle on the desert city till its reflected neon colors streak and run, washing the shining streets with iridescence. II Deep into the deepest sleep pattering rain penetrates a recurrent memory of childhood: A bleary street light making photo negatives of upper bedroom windows. They are forever a blur of weeping silver framed in the ghostly ruffles of net curtains. Billowed in a flannel nightgown a small figure flits mothlike across the bedroom to close the panes, to pause and smooth the bed quilt, to touch a child's cheek, then to flit away tossing braided hair over shoulder.

III In the dawn of a desert-drenched morning I step onto my patio, and from its protected cover look across a backyard sheltered by fence and hedge - By paloverde, cottonwood and orange trees. Gone is the furze of desert dust. In its place, the tidiness of an American primitive, a clean, sharp composition growing more explicit by the minute as gray light bleaches to sunrise. The unaccustomed clarity of shape on shape comes into focus. Leafless this season the towering cottonwood, the gnarled fig tree speak of the composition of life. All around me is the source of form.

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