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First Thaw

This morning was the first time: all the snow
that buried us receding, still in drifts
piled high, crusted with ice and yet receding,
slowly drawing back—abandoned cars
revealed, crushed grass, the shattered road ice-slicked,
salt-splashed, slush running downstream, breaking up
over the drains, dissolving….All this time
I thought the whole world lost, but now the light
glances off roofs still cracking with the weight—
a little less, today. The second time
is now: when I can bear to look around
once more and watch this world emerge—old world
from which so much is missing still, new world
in which so much will, one day soon, appear.


Ned Balbo’s The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems (Story Line Press) was awarded the 2012 Poets’ Prize and the 2010 Donald Justice Prize. His two previous books are Lives of the Sleepers (Ernest Sandeen Prize and ForeWord Book of the Year Gold Medal) and Galileo’s Banquet (Towson University Prize). He was co-winner of the 2013 Willis Barnstone Translation Prize. His commentary on the poetic turns in Andrew Hudgins’ “Mary Magdalene’s Left Foot” appears at Voltage Poetry.

First Thaw” appeared previously in Lives of the Sleepers (University of Notre Dame Press, 2005).




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Dawn Leas's poems and book reviews have appeared in print and online, and her chapbook, I Know When to Keep Quiet (Finishing Line Press, 2010), is available in print and Kindle versions. In past lives she was a copywriter, freelancer, admissions director and middle-school English teacher. Currently, she is the associate director of the Wilkes University M.A./M.F.A. Creative Writing programs and a contributing editor at Poets' Quarterly. Follow her on Twitter @DawnLeas and visit

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  • Ross McPherson March 24, 2014, 9:39 pm

    Beautiful poem. I read it right through before I realized there were no rhymes. It feels rhymed. The steady iambic rhythm isn’t enough to create that impression by itself. I guess it comes partly from internal half rhymes, like snow…slowly, receding…receding…revealed etc. But also from the sense of balanced ideas. Congratulations.

  • Josh Lefkowitz March 25, 2014, 3:18 pm

    This was lovely.

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