Bay Nature magazineJanuary-March 2011

Suburban Slough

January 1, 2011

There is a god
who sits upon the sea’s blue monument
and breathes into the tide.
He sits far off, and yet his breath is here.

It is a little channel, barely wide
enough to have some mud and pickleweed,
with bulkheads hemming it on either side:

Out of a culvert’s gated mouth
a creek flows out from underneath
the asphalts of a creekless neighborhood.

A poor scrap of a place: but something knows
to do its utmost with the bits we leave.
The muck is blue; the pickleweed is rose;

The heron in its terrible intent
implanted like a bolted driftwood bird
wastes no opinion on the littered shore.

Pry up that black half-buried tire
and you will find a tidepool in its curve,
an anemone, a fish, a flash of mauve.

The tide goes out: the treble waters glide
and new marauders settle from their wings.
What tugs again is seeking out what clings.

It is an awkward comfort, but a true:
there are survivors of the worst we do
and nature does not wring her hands, but moves
into the least of these interstices.

About the Author

Marin County freelancer John Hart is the author of many articles and several books on environmental issues in the Bay Area, including Farming on the Edge (UC Press, 1992), San Francisco Bay: Portrait of an Estuary (UC Press, 2003) with photos by David Sanger, and the forthcoming Legacy: Portraits of 50 Bay Area Environmental Elders (UC Press, 2006) with photos by Nancy Kittle.

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