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First Frost in the Suburbs

The marigolds' barn-color chips and fades.
Their shrivelled buds hang down, knots of dried wood.

A slate squirrel, thin in the wrong season, drags
its twine tail like a spent fuse. Stacks

of trees smoke with the flesh of leaves.
The petunias' popped-balloon skin flaps empty sleeves.

The frozen lawns - square fields of captured hay;
a mutt slinks across them like a practiced refugee.

Now every chalky nimbus holds its bank
of snow. Cold bands of sparrows walk the plank

of sky. A small orchestra of birds warms up at dawn-
frantic and lyric as Auschwitz's musicians.

-- Jennifer Rose



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