Sometimes a poem can seem to be like a jeweler’s setting, in which a gemlike image is presented. This one, by Chase Twichell, who lives in upstate New York, has one of those perfect gems of observation in the “cinnamon swirls” of sand on the surface of the road. I’ll never see sand on the road again without thinking of this. It’s from her new book, “Things as It Is,” from Copper Canyon Press.

After Snow

I’m the first car after the sander.

The cinnamon swirls of fresh sand are intact.


Except for that—the sand and the road—


The woods look as if they might have

a thousand years ago, except for


the absence of tracks.


on the ground, a few twigs for a nest,

no fluff. Mourning dove. Even the name

sounds soft. Even the notes they coo,


perched on a fence wire. But they are

hatched on the dirt. When they leave the shell,

the wind is already blowing their feathers dry.


We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by Chase Twichell, “After Snow,” from Things as It Is, (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Chase Twichell and the publisher. Introduction copyright @2019 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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