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February Report From the North

Icicles fringe the woodpile.

Roads are sheeted by ice

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like a rink, no path safe

under the masking snow.

The ancient grapes I put out

are instantly amethysts,

our familiar black squirrel

gnaws them like nuts.

Last year's marigolds

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bloomed through November,

never got yanked

from the hardening soil.

Still they hang over snow.

The yellow-tinged tips

of long, thin seeds

squirrels and birds ignore.

Seeds must hint of hope.

But this frozen season

we cannot trust any

cliches of change

out there - or, numbed

by our old disappointments -

promises from ourselves.

We tug our coats tighter,

like the squirrel his tail

flattened over his spine.

We think: garden blazing

yellow and orange,

vineyards fragrant

with purple and green.

We bend our heads to the wind,

shuffle into another blizzard,

chatter and scratch to keep warm.

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