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Friday, April 4, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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A poem by Madeline DeFrees

Almanac

Into my ravaged garden as into the tattered

cocoon of the season

I walk in mud-caked shoes, stalking the last

anorexic string-bean,

the bolting bitter lettuce,

tomatoes defiantly green on the vine,

and bony zucchini.

None of us wants to go back

to the worm-riddled earth we sprang from.

Already a lachrymose wind

grieves over the ground of our being. And who,

when scarlet letters

flutter in air from sumac and maple,

will be there to

receive them? Only a sigh

on the wind in the land of bending willow

attending the frost and snow

as they spread a weedy cover. Or a furrow's trace

on the fallow bed where rain

describes a river: the waters of oblivion

I follow crossing over.

— Madeline DeFrees' "Blue Dusk: New and Selected Poems, 1951-2001" (Copper Canyon Press)

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