Drive down White Rock Road on a bright February day
and see the cedars suck up all the light,
leaving a token remnant of red wavelengths
in the outermost and upper fringes
but taking everything else, all luminance gone
except for the holes where sky color peeks through
the interweaving of tiny branches.

Feel the wind that feathers through the trees,
drying up all moisture, turning skin into crackling,
and sniff the lack of smell: no piny tang
or scent of bare earth survives its desiccating chill.

Return next week and hear sound hushed by snow.
Bird calls, idle chatter, flageolet and sackbut —
all vanish into the baroque silence.
Strain to detect even a thin whisper
in the falling flakes.

                               And so the poet,
now a mere shadow of his former self,
creates new absence. In the white page
black cutouts of words appear, recounting
once and for all, in bold and orotund detail,
that which is most emphatically not here.

February 22, 2002

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