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This poem is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

Five Poems Judy Gahagan

Sudden Hoar-frost
This morning I wake petrified; sudden hoar-frost
surrounds my house with wild-haired ancients
frozen alive rampaging where they shouldn't;

the skeins of starved white hair have snagged
streaming from the wards of that Hotel de Dieu -
my mother's eyes: 'Why have you brought me here?'

And my hair is deep brown; the unflinching shine
of the ageless conker perpetuating its high noon;
dense mahoganies will outlive me in this room

where most mornings I wake petrified: a presence,
assigned in plain clothes, buffs its nails, waiting
for the tactful moment: 'So, as soon as you are ready'.

One day, but not yet, my hair will suddenly go white
overnight, I'll wake to the shock of its hoar-frost
as my mother did, wandering that perilous dawn, lost.

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