Mar/Apr 2021 • Vol. XLIII No. 2 Nature’s Nature |

The Bog

The pond flooded over its banks when winter storms heaped gravel blocking its outlet to the sea. Peat-rich water rose to drown sheep laurel, Labrador tea, pitcher plants, dragon’s mouth orchids, and wild cotton — all rarities of the bog lands. Another summer and the ache of gray twigs encircled the pond and some tall spruces ghosted the landscape where once they crowned it. I came to see how much would sprout back now that another winter had burst open the outlet the flood subsiding. These plants know the cyclical violence of flood, drought, ice. The tall salt grasses greened up first dressing the mud hummocks like party clothes. The Labrador tea began to push green buds from its extremities. The spruces in time will fall but their cones lie prepared to be broken into growth. Repair takes time, it has a rhythm like the sea, swelling up, pulling back. Everything that lives understands this rhythm, but who doesn’t need to see the signs to remember it is the way of the world

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Alison Hawthorne Deming is the author of five books of poetry and four books of nonfiction, including Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit, published in 2014. She received a 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship. Her latest poetry book Stairway to Heaven along with her collaboration with photographer Stephen Strom, Death Valley: Painted Light appeared in 2017.

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