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“Man is but a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.”

—Pascal, Pensées

Five degrees. Rough, shifting winds. Sunlight crashing

Almost audibly, sky to snow-pack, snow-pack to sky.

Eyes shrink hard to their smallest stop, but winter drills in.

Brilliant splinters of ice in the air blow up and down.

In a polished field stiff weeds poke through like rusty wire.

Stems and branches, anchored in ice, shake hard with gusts,

Knock stalk on stalk and litter the snow with broken reeds.

Detritus lifts in a whirl of air, then lies back down.

Hollow weeds rattle bone on bone, and the man who listens

Slowly turns to scan the rim of an icy zero. Acres of snow

Reach every way. Sunlight fills the blinding page.

He has come out here to read what it says, and he thinks he knows.

He walks back home and remembers everything;

Everything holds in his icy mirror. When words arrive

He chooses those which fabricate nothing, take nothing away.

I read the words on the snowy page, and they stick like burrs.

They name the terror and make it flower. We stand together.