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Another Place

Updated on October 19, 2014

A family trip to Florida. Seven days

of strip malls and sprawling department stores,

exurbs enclosed in faux-stucco walls,

filled with ranch-style houses without

cattle in their half-acre yards.

Instead, swimming pools studded the land

like shimmering rhinestones reeking of chlorine.


Some small relief came from the rows

of pagoda-shaped slash pines and turbaned palms,

ponds brimming with small-mouth

bass, drainage canals sundering one

cluster of residences from the next—

from which alligators periodically

emerged to creep after banished prey

and terrify the snowbirds.


The brightest time was the ferry ride

through a surviving mangrove swamp:

rising out of standing water,

the close growth of rubbery elliptical leaves

hosted huge pastel-blue herons scanning

the shaded shallows motionless, biding time

for starfish or tarpon to poke out from among

the bending, tubular roots, interwoven

to better hold their soaked ground.

A great blue heron swallowing a fish.
A great blue heron swallowing a fish. | Source

§


Later, a friend would compliment me

for stitching mentions of the ferry

across the essay reflecting my journey

to sew its parts together tight.

They were also a ripple skimming through;

first Florida twisted, tangled

my roots to cling to Greenbelt’s simpler milieu

like mangroves’, but this began to make them more

flexible and my art more fluid

like the floor of the forest its mangroves made home.

Mangrove swamp
Mangrove swamp | Source

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