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F E B R U A R Y   1 9 9 7

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by Stephen Sandy

Also by Stephen Sandy:
Earth Day Story (1991)
My Place (1996)

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Those yews at winter's end,
near-black on snow -- she said
as they walked -- are the proper green
for the shutters of a house.

He wondered, walking there
watching the feint and dart
of sparrows returned to stark
hedgerows, alighting on canes

of blackberry thorned and bare.
As they walked they thought how quiet
this end of winter was,
how long, both of them watching

the neutral tones of March,
the slow, ferocious patience
of air and plant and bird
slowly squaring with change

and change. Without a word
they watched the sky, blank now,
muzzled in iron gray
as if some brighter world

had sealed its doors on theirs.
He wondered how the season
with this imperious pause
changed imperceptibly

and answered her -- now half
a mile beyond those yews --
that their winter hue was right
for the shutters of a house

but that the yews would change:
an emerald rise from earth's
dark core, needles leaden
with cold, soon brightening.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; February 1997; Like No Other; Volume 279, No. 2; page 52.

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