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First Snow

By Paul O. Williams / December 2, 1993

The mathematician

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watches grass tips scratch arcs

on the fresh snow.

The retired mailman

remembers the hiss of snow

on pin oak leaves.

The boy from Java,

hands aching from cold,

packs one more snowball.

The grandmother

ices her angel food cake,

whistling to herself.

Listening for snowplows,

the city manager hears

a muffled owl hoot.

Waxing her skis,

the sportswoman thinks

about golf.

The mall janitor

scatters handfuls of salt,

thinking of grass seed.

The snowman,

as Wallace Stevens has it,

thinks about nothing.

The chrysanthemums,

dried on their stems,

grow white again.

The snow continues,

fades into soundlessness

as it deepens.