Wetland Warrior

for Mary Linton


She was already muddy

when she waded into our midst,

her wellies still slick

with the muck of the Limberlost.

Some say t’was a mission of conscience

drove her north from that fabled swamp

her people helped to ditch and drain.

Or maybe a prayer for wet prairies

still slithering with massasaugas,

for marshes clattering with the calls of cranes.

When she knelt on our soil

and her Levis soaked through at the knees,

she knew she’d arrived.


She’d come to frolic with our frogs

to gander at our salamanders

to dance with our darners and damsels.

But when our wetlands were threatened

this Hoosier became a badger

and bared her teeth

at the forces infernal that would

fill the vernal shallows

and bulldoze the bullrushes.

She wrestled with those

whose foul prestidigitation

upon the practice of mitigation

make a folly of our very hydrology.

We are richer for her leadership

and her savvy investments

in sedge funds and seed banks.

Few walk taller in the Typha

or have greater standing among the Blanding’s.


But what now for this Amazon of the amphibious

who so deserves a rest?

She’ll likely strap on her waders and never take them off.

And I hope she’ll do what she’s always done —

grab a beer and a pen

and find the poem in it all,

the music in the mesic,

the holy in the hydric,

string together her words like freshwater pearls

and wear them like rosaries.

Whatever she does,

I’m pretty sure she’ll stay muddy.


Tod Highsmith

October 25, 2012


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