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.
October 25, 2012