ESSAY

Week 3

Observations at Southwest Atlanta Nature Preserves

by Marti Keller

 

Stunning in their endurance,

despite chain saws and sewage spills,

mounds of old tires, garbage, plastic bottles that blanket creek banks;

despite the invasive plants:

English Ivy, Privet and Chinaberry trees carried here

for decoration, for erosion control, literally smothering the natives;

The million year plants have persevered, even resurrected in the living soil of a nearly extinct forest.

 

Wary coyotes still patrol their territory.

Frogs and herons find the remaining clear running streams, the almost hidden springs.

Watchful resident birds and migrating warblers still nest and rest from their long journeys,

despite human incursion, degradation and care-lessness.

 

I have re-learned something about resilience

from this moody summer, drowning and baking the land,

from this overlooked place:

How living things want to live.

How a centuries-old tree, a lucky accident of survival, can generate and sustain new growth.

How limbs may flexibly bend and not break,

but even when limbs break, life can refashion itself.

Gaping holes can shelter magnificent mushrooms.

Creek beds can fill up, change course in a single afternoon,

whether or not we can bridge over them.

 

From Hardihood: A Series of Prose Poems