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Winter Walk 

Out on the coastal trail
the grey air is December brisk.
Strangers greet each other 
"Good morning!"
full-throated and gust-blown
in the ante meridiem freshness.
Dark, scudding clouds promise
the yearned-for deliverance of rain.
Leaves ferment on the asphalt,
blanketed with pine needles and miniature cones
the size of elves.
Edging the trail are fervent greens
and drooping ferns,
which autumn
scorched burnt umber
long before.
Scents of wood and walnut and salt spray 
pervade the breezes that scurry
in and out of the low-slung dunes,
dotted with tufts of sea grass.
In the adjoining lagoon
 young ducks swim silently,
indifferent to the wash of surf beyond.
Does a sense of looming rain
quiet them?
We are all creatures of our sensations,
always flourishing,
ever vanishing,
mortal and eternal.

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Paul Mann

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