The Cattail Gatherers at “Swan Lake” Nature Reserve (2019)
They walk with heavy bundles and rough bales
so slow under the eyes of Peavine crest,
whose grandeur can be seen when we look west,
a boy and girl head home to tell their tales.
The Tundra Swan will swim immune to play,
to bend its neck to see the children’s game.
How water comes and goes our lives the same.
Open wings upon Pacific flyway.
With nostalgia they play around the lake,
to walk on paths they have already crossed,
they both will stop to look upon a Loon,
to stop upon the observation deck,
and gather any Cattails they have lost,
to head back home before the clock strikes noon.
He holds a bale of Cattails on his lap,
to sit and eat a bite before his trek,
through alkali mud flats and sticky muck,
to use forked prints of birds feet as his map.
His sister waves her arms to set in flight
a flock of water fowl who swam in peace
and set in motion Canadian Geese,
a moment when the sky becomes a sight.
These “Swan Lake” Cattails standing seven feet.
The tallest Cattails they have ever seen
much taller then the ponds where they catch fish.
At home they both place Cattails down to greet.
Their Mother asks with patience where they’ve been
while setting Cattails on an empty dish.
Yet mixed within the muck is empty glass
of Whiskey someone threw upon the path
and other litter, humanity’s wrath,
near gazebo a syringe in the grass.
The girl will wander out in lake to pull
cans of beer and junk food wrappers that float
upon the stillness like a displaced boat
how long until this home for birds is full?
Until then they will walk within the reed
to find the tallest Cattails they can find
and listen to the frogs sing out their song.
This land has been a part of natures need
before the tract homes and the warehouse grind,
before something along the way went wrong.
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