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Eve at the Edge of Winter 


What hierarchy of love and choice

shall have exacted it of us,

that to the shame of all our yearning

the body goes foul on its bones, beyond

its own or any pardon?

The sky already is quivering

with snow, and I think how it was

all summer the leaves of the McIntosh

were green as I have imagined ice

at the hearts of glaciers to be green,

while in July there were times

when, about to sleep, I might have sworn

that by morning the lawns would be stiff with frost,

the calendulas collapsed on their stems,

petals corollas of golden ice;

might equally have sworn

that in August one dawn I awakened

to a blizzard--though it was only

a swarming of white butterflies at a dead mole

in the grass. All summer

and well into the fall we worked

in the old orchard cutting apple wood,

three cords of it split and stacked

and just in time. Now, yet only October,

snow storms at the edges of the lawn.

I close the door,

light up the first fire of the year,

and outside the weathers are gathering.


From House and Garden, University of Notre Dame Press, 2001

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John Engels


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