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"Winter as a Profit and Loss Statement" 


Saplings stuck in the bank will show the plow truck, in a month,

the road’s edge.

The torrential rains, wind. Later, after dawn, clotted flakes

cataract the skylight.

Her finger traces the valley of his back.

The windows are opaque with ice, fissure lines squiggle

like the seam where the plates of the human skull fuse.

Snow driven in the slice of space between the barn boards.

Snowflakes stick singly and doubly to a cow’s roan coat,

skewered to a hair.

To cool a hot pie they place it in the snow beyond the back door

and cut into it an hour later. In the morning:

the plate shape embossed there, ghost of the full moon.


The desk replaces the field, the lamp replaces the sun,

one hand tills with a pencil.

She bangs the paddles of the gutter cleaner with a mallet.

Moisture beads on cow’s whiskers like dew on grass.

The cow’s bloated body is hard as a brick

at the back of the barn.

She’s felt a man go away without moving a muscle.

She’s seen a man veer away from a woman

and he didn’t move at all.

The chicken’s struggle written in wing-marks and scarlet

beside the dog prints stabbed in the snow.

The plow’s growl scrapes her out of a dream, dumps her back on the mattress.

Two songs: whine of the de-barker at the mill, and crow’s harsh caw.


Snowflakes: are they heaven’s search party?

From "Planet Jr.," the Vermont writer’s latest collection of poems, winner of the 2012 Hazel Lipa Environmental Chapbook Award at Iowa State University.

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Julia Shipley


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