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Not Tomorrow Maybe, but Soon
Down from your marble high-rise,
along the relentless concrete,
past the asphalt avenues,
you come at last to the park, and yes,
the trees are still there, but wait --
they’re different now: you don’t
remember that murky shade
from yesterday’s walk -- or
was it last week? Last year?
This is more than the dusk of trees
or forest or jungle -- look,
now it’s slipped in behind you, the trees
choking the deserted streets,
sending their snaky limbs
into abandoned apartments,
their brawny roots upending
granite and limestone, the whole
metropolis crumbling away
to Mayan temples strangled in angry vines,
Angkor crushed in hungry tentacles --
and after those shock troops come
the bushes, the brambles, ferns,
and grass --
grass everywhere, mossing the ruins
in thunder, rain, steaming sun,
spiders webbing over forgotten doorways,
and small white blossoms busy
blooming a plot for your grave.
After all those years of chainsaws
bulldozers, bushhogs, now
it’s payback time for green things
and their dark memories:
they were here before you came.
They’ll be here after you’re gone.
—Philip Appleman

Alpine Forget-Me-Nots
And if alpine terrain withheld every blessing
but the tiny forget-me-not’s passionate
high-country blue, what then? A world
of cold stone? Only so. Except for wonders
humble as theirs: of nearly no stature at all,
scarcely wide as the pupil of an eye.

Winter’s last avalanche here is now a shambles.
Spruce trees uprooted, fir trunks snapped off, blown
or thrown downhill everywhichway, like world history,
that always seems hopeless—though never to me
when awed by the blue intensity of those petals.

Their stamens, their pollen finer than sight.
Like keys of the kingdom, their minuscule florets.
Low as moss, perennial as sky.
Tall as summer twelve thousand feet high.
—Reg Saner

Shaker Gifts

Canterbury, New Hampshire

To each wall its style. One, for instance, is a big cairn
of smallish stones heaped like a haycock
though capped by chance flags. Another, massive, runs

under old maples: huge unhewn boulders and little rocks
fitted in a marvel of snugness. A third,
skirting a good orchard knee-high in hay: balanced

erratics on a bald mountain-top. Love
of sheer abstraction before the word: order’s hard labor,
the beauty of stone hosting lichen, moss, creatures, light.
—Chris Agee

OnEarth. Winter 2002
Copyright 2001 by the Natural Resources Defense Council