A Walk Along Glennsbrook Creek

At meadow's end
Where the land falls swiftly down
The wooded slope to the ravine below,
Wild phlox contrive in a line of isolated clumps,
To flaunt their fuchsia opulence
And paint a pastel perimeter
That stops the eye — mesmerizing it.

Yet I know, beyond this dazzling rim
Deep in the ravine below,
Though hidden now by broad-leafed maples,
And an aspen's silvery quake,
Two creeks collide, blend, and head north
Toward the river
Seeking ever more mysterious depths.

Ahead lie unknown rocks, pebbles or sandbars
To be caressed with a gentle, rippling touch.

As a friend and I descend the slope
To walk along the low banks
Of this confluence as it proceeds
Softly, sinuously northward through the valley,
We hear pileated woodpeckers pounding
And warblers singing without the competition
Of civilization's mechanical clank and grind.

We feel the relief of absolute nature.
We breathe the cool, fresh air beneath
Ancient oaks, or smooth, gray beech trees,
Or shagbark hickories, whose tops
Disappear into the sky.

As we walk, a whiskered muskrat slips
From behind a hollow fungus-covered log,
Shrouded by ferns, and then vanishes with a plop
Beneath the surface of the stream.
A rotting stump green with lichen, blocks our path.
Half-filled with rain water, it teems
with mosquito larvae, and probably
A dozen other amoebic life forms.

Abruptly, we feel a shattering smash.
A beaver slaps his tail flatly, forcefully
On his pool's surface as he plunges down
To the privacy of his dualistic habitat.

Thus, nature is not always so placid, so
Lacking in the tensions of necessity.
Then I notice a partly chewed-off sapling
Leaning at an angle against the trunk
Of a giant ash.

The shock of this minor drama jars my mood
And suddenly changes my thinking —
For if the beaver, by his grit, fells timber
To encase his watery lair of ecstacy,
Is man really so different, then,
So unnatural, when in his metropolis
He builds a tower of stone
Reaching for the stars?
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Volume 1, Issue 2, Posted 12:22 PM, 09.14.2009