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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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.
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.