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April 01st 2008 print

Kerry Popplewell

Under Sentence

At Easter, you learned you would die.
It was autumn bright the sky
on the day you were told—
the gorse up the hill still gold.

Not yet, they insisted, not yet.
You might even at times forget
what the year would bring—
might be round for one final spring.

Now, evanescent as snow,
or as cloud drift shifting low
over the valley floor,
or light through a closing door,

the first white blossom breaks free
on the outmost twigs of a tree—
its petals, parchment pale,
soon ripped by the sharp north gale;

and September’s unstoppable green
its exuberant gusto and sheen
arrives to unsettle the mind
with its promises, true and unkind,

of a shining summer ahead.
When it ends, you may well be dead;
but you manage to enter each day
in so matter-of-fact a way

we are lulled into disbelief—
feel obliged to shelve our grief
and mimic your aplomb
as we plan for the weeks to come.

Kerry Popplewell