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Anne Britting Oleson

Earth Day, One Year Later

(for M.W.)

Uncertain April afternoon:

swallows at least know to build nests

in the moulding beneath the eaves,

staving off the false labor of season.

I want to think we're safe now

from the tangle of birth-life-death

in early spring--but who can tell?

Perhaps the yard maples can, strewing

feathery red flowers on greening grass,

gift to the earth which throws back

wormy scents of warmth and wet.

These broad trunks have lived here longest,

their roots burrow deepest:

perhaps they know best

when to send sap reaching

toward a particular slant of sun,

a particular bell-like blue of sky.

Farm Christmas

Once again safely ensconced in

the yellow room for Christmas,

I look out through frosted storm windows

at the orchard on the hillside, bare gnarled branches

bowed toward the frozen ground.

It has begun to snow: heavy flakes

falling purposefully to silver over

the waves of dead grass.

The world tonight is turning slowly

to the new year, and at the window

I watch a haloed moon rise,

and think of you with a quiet joy

that lives and glows like the star of wonder,

radiating from beneath my ribs.

If there are angels out there

in this cold December evening,

they sing to the converted—and to

that fox, flashing among

the bony arms of sleeping apple trees,

white-tipped tail aloft, a solitary flame.