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Silver buckets hang from maples lined
along dirt roads, stone walls, orchards spent.
Slow taps drip on sunny days just before
spring, a labor from tree to tree intent
on gather and empty. Endless wood
fires stoked night and day boil down
gallons of sap until proclaimed good.
Transubstantiation, a heavenly brown.

On earth a sweetness hard won
can cost too much; we stand
to lose it all if balance of cold and sun
slows the flow, forced to settle for bland
and scant. Amber fools, willing
to toil for each drop, dear and thrilling.


Gail Thomas’ books are Odd Mercy, Waving Back, No Simple Wilderness, and Finding the Bear. Her poems have been widely published in journals and anthologies including CALYX, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, and Mom Egg Review. Among her awards are the Charlotte Mew Prize from Headmistress Press for Odd Mercy, the Narrative Poetry Prize from Naugatuck River Review, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book’s “Must Read” for Waving Back. Thomas teaches for the Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshops and has been a fellow at the MacDowell Colony and Ucross. 

© 2021, by Gail Thomas

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