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Ode to a Plain Old Pond Frog
Your singing sounds
like burping
from the back row
in a class of reeds and mud

Your skin wrinkles
greenly over your bones
like spinach stretching
over a baseball

Legs like a kangaroo's
spring you to the moon
where it ripples
in the center of the pond

Here is what your lovesongs
sound like:
you are ugly
i love you
you are ugly
i love you
-- William Pitt Root

The Mountain Lion
Once I saw
the mountain lion. She stepped
out of a cloud
of birch trees and ran
along the edge of the field. When she saw
that I saw her, instantly
flames began to leap
in her eyes, it was that
distasteful to her to be
seen. Her wide face
was a plate of gold,
her black lip
curled as though she had come
to a terrible place in the long movie, her shoulders
rippled like water, her tail
swung in the grass
as she turned back into the trees,
just leaving me time to guess
that she was not a cat at all
but a great and perfect mystery
that perhaps I didn't really see
but simply understood belonged here
like all the other perfections
that still, now and again, emerge
out of the last waterfalls forests
the last unviolated mountains, hurrying
night after night morning after light-sprinkled morning
through the cage of the world.
-- Mary Oliver

Insect With No Name
I watch it navigate the rim
of my cup. Built like a puzzle,
mechanical parts move in slow motion.
He is made of hard leather, cutouts
along wings. When he flies,
it is not for long. When he lands,
he continues to do what he was doing.
Not much.
I like that I like him.
Why, I can't say. He's not pretty.
An easy target, he creaks along
the white oak floor, taking forever. I like that.
I like what he isn't.
A buzz. A sting. Those others
who vanish into thin air.
-- Roberta Swann

OnEarth. Fall 2002
Copyright 2002 by the Natural Resources Defense Council