Poets for Science
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Winter Day on the Whirlpool Trails

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Location

Where the power lines go through,

the red clay gullies and pits, not even

privet can grow fast enough to bind it.

We clamber down and up, and down and up,

and turn to enter the woods. Further along,

we come to broken glass, old brown bottles

nearly buried, a toilet choked with brush,

bricks, some pipes, some turquoise plastic coiling.

It’s just like that, here—people dump things

and they sink, protrude rusty and jagged

from the mud, or block the trail,

stained with leaf mold. To the side,

some withered Southern red oaks,

a blackjack oak, knobby trunks of trees

choked by spiraling vines—Virginia creeper,

poison ivy—and leafless sweetgums

with their little sci-fi seedpods.

Everywhere rotting, everywhere teeming,

moss like emeralds on the stumps,

the hollow logs. This is my home, this leaf-duff

and dereliction, where look—a vulture wheels

above the cedars, searching for what stinks.

Where a first tender violet, blooming

by my feet before Valentine’s Day,

signifies the seasons are in heat.

The great blue heron’s not here today,

standing motionless among the reeds.

But a turtle slides off a distant log, and sunlight

scatters like shot across the scum-slicked pond.