Flat Creek Wetland Overlook

–A poem by Peggy Shumaker

 

Two dozen downy goslings graze

this stubbled verge,

three parents high-beaked, vigilant.

 

Beside the walkway,

wingfeathers, tailfeathers,

no blood.

 

High up then low, swallows careen–

calligraphy through

evening’s hatch of gnats.

 

A lone Northern Shoveler scoops

marsh muck, sifts and rinses

squirmy gulps, swallows.

 

One-note calls pepper darkening air

where red shouldered blackbirds bob

on dry reeds, furry cattails

 

long since gone to seed.

Frog calls round off dim edges

of evening, vowel chorus

 

come, come come.

Wild eyes we never see

track each step we take,

 

ease away among aspen.

Wide paws, the tawny

shimmer of muscle under fur,

 

mountains’ wildness made flesh,

fang, claw. Tiny brown bats tumble,

gasp open/shut. Echoes

 

tremble beyond our hearing.

Elk roam these flats, sometimes

thousands at a time

 

meandering these meadows,

thousands of elk breathing

out this air we take deep in.

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