First Winter

They only know that something is up.

The trees explode in rapture
like Moses singing at the hour of his death.

In some paradox of change,
branches bear their burden of leaves aloft
as if they are weightless;
yet, when freed of them, the limbs falter in a kind of defeat,
loss pressing on them like stones.

Desolation is a trick of nature:
the ground picked clean as bones,
gone hard with forgetfulness.

What the young animals do not know
is that their first winter will not be their last,
that the green will come again.

They see everything disappearing –
abundance slipping away subtly, insidiously
the way breaths leave the body at the end –
and think that they are done for.

Pricked by apprehension, they sail,
fleet as commas, after the last leaf or berry.

They have not lived enough
to see the earth remember itself
after the midnight stillness of winter
or to know that such vast emptiness can yield
a single petal, cupped like a hand,
testifying to the sun.

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Mark Evan Chimsky is an editorial consultant (markchimskyeditorial.com) who headed major publishing imprints and was the editor of a number of bestsellers, including Johnny Cash’s autobiography "Cash." He is a contributor to Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and Thrive Global. An award-winning poet, Mark has published poetry and essays in Bullets into Bells, JAMA (The Journal of the American Medical Association), Wild Violet, The Oakland Review, Three Rivers Poetry Journal and Mississippi Review. He is currently developing the musicals The Pledge and Swagger with composer Zev Burrows.

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