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About this Poem 

"The Everglades lacks the obvious drama of some of our most famous natural treasures, such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite. It is a more meditative space, a place to lose oneself amid clouds and sawgrass, rather than find oneself dazzled and amazed at earth’s grandeur. It is also, unlike those luckier parks, located in the backyard of a major American city, subject to the relentless pressure of real estate development that fuels Florida’s economy. What does the future hold for the Everglades, how will the future judge our stewardship of its serene beauty?"
—Campbell McGrath

The Everglades

Green and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florida stitched by hungry ibises.

It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.

Turtles bask in the last tatters of afternoon,
frogs perfect their symphony at dusk—

in its solitude we remember ourselves,
dimly, as creatures of mud and starlight.

Clouds and savannahs and horizons,
its emptiness is an antidote, its ink

illuminates the manuscript of the heart.
It is not ours though it is ours

to destroy or preserve, this the kingdom
of otter, kingfisher, alligator, heron.

If the sacred is a river within us, let it flow
like this, serene and magnificent, forever.

 

Copyright © 2016 by Campbell McGrath. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Copyright © 2016 by Campbell McGrath. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath

Campbell McGrath is the author of ten collections of poetry, including XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century, In The Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys, Shannon, and Seven Notebooks. His third book, Spring Comes to Chicago, won the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

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On the map it is precise and rectilinear as a chessboard, though driving past you would hardly notice it, this boundary line or ragged margin, a shallow swale that cups a simple trickle of water, less rill than rivulet, more gully than dell, a tangled ditch grown up throughout with a fearsome assortment of

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La Serenissima, in morning light, is beautiful.
But you already knew that. 
Palette of honeyed ochre and ship’s bell bronze, 
water precisely the color of the hand-ground pigment
with which the water of Venice has been painted for centuries, 
angled slats of aquamarine chopped by wakes to agate, 
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Another year is coming to an end
but my old t-shirts will not be back—

the pea-green one from Trinity College,
gunked with streaks of lawnmower grease,

the one with orange bat wings
from Diamond Cavern, Kentucky,

vanished
without a trace.

After a two-day storm I wander

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