Inspired by National Poetry Month

Written by MaryBeth Kressin
    Wednesday, 26 April 2017
Inspired by National Poetry Month

As we bid farewell to April, National Poetry Month once again comes to a close. This year the Urban Ecology Center celebrated poetry and the earth on two special evenings. The Thursday before Earth Day brought a new group of poets and energy into the center with Spirit and Nature – A reading and Conversation with Anishinaabe Poets. The following night was the annual Earth Poets and Musicians Earthstravaganza. This marked the 30th anniversary of this group meeting, sharing words with our community and celebrating the earth.

Words, communication, music and song. As human beings how and what we say to people, how we talk and the words that we use are essential to getting our meanings across, conveying a message, advocating for a group, standing up for what you believe and letting the world know.

Honored and inspired by these two amazing groups sharing their energy, creativity and connection here at the center, I decided to put my English/Creative Writing degree to use and create a poem to celebrate National Poetry Month, the earth and what I know – so much life at the Urban Ecology Center:

So Much Life

We are from a double wide trailer planted in Riverside Park
Visions of a brighter greener future for the city
for the park of Olmstead,
for visitors, for children, for Milwaukee

We are from spring ephermals; trout lilies, trillium, cutleaf toothwort and forsythia

We are from an Oak Savanna
that used to cover Wisconsin
with only less than 0.01% of our original
oak ancestors remaining

We are from the gleam
in the eyes of a neighborhood child
entering the woods for the first time
imagination energy wild
chipmunk garter snake crazy

We are from bioturbation – the process of plants and animals
taking actions
into their own roots and paws
rearranging the soil profile
landscaping their own homes

We are from green toad making his way
every year to the front pond
caterwauling and meeting, briefly filling the twilight
with their cacophony
of hope and desperation
only to leave shortly thereafter,
leaving their tadpoles for our tadpoles to learn from and save

We are from each star burst and sun spot
that our Urban Star Gazers point out to us
telling about the black holes and mysteries
uncovered while the Echo poets share words
their souls and their writings.

We are from Ojibwe language
full moon ceremonies next to Oak leaf bike path,
burning sage and tobacco, spirits howling out to mother moon

We are from science, graphs and citizen research,
surveys of dragonflies, damselflies, monarchs,
Northern Leopard frogs, Soft Spiny and Snapping Turtles,
eastern Red and Silver Haired bats,
Golden Winged Warbler, Dark Sword-Grass,
Omnivorous Leaf Roller and Cranberry Girdler Moths,

We are from the grandma
bringing her ducklings here to explore the treehouse of a building
with hidden rooms, towers that go into the sky,
secret slides that only innocence can find.

We are from gatherings
of like-minded companions and strangers
To discuss the world, the earth, our community
our water, our land, our transitions
our food, our words, our safety and our homes

We are from the west in a Park with a vibrant lagoon
maple trees your arms can barely reach around
islands that have hidden birds only to be seen by canoe
a neighborhood central hub

We are from the south
a land transforming from an industrial dusty all past
from the bones of a tavern, the entrance to Mr. Aaron’s State trail
train horns echoing alongside 3 bridges crossed
prairie planted and community gardens seeded
nuevas familias

We are from nature rangers and young scientists
an afterschool hour and a half of discovery
contagious laughter, outdoor rosy cheeks
energy funneled into a futureous spark

We are from the buzz of the bumbles
the buzz of our fingertips in soil
the buzz of the 3rd graders trying to be quiet
the buzz of the afterschool Riverside High hormones and posturing
the buzz of a good idea and acting on it
the buzz of a new member joining our family
the buzz of the fruit flies around our compost bins
the buzz of hope and life and community and recycling and reusing
and not being ephermeral
not just a fleeting idea
but a Savanna Oak one of the 0.01% that is holding on
deep roots
and a community to support and enjoy it

We are from the lengthy lingering roots
of purple prairie clover and bottle gentian
moments like rain being held in the soil
not be washed down the big tunnel
but to stay
to give nutrients and life to more life to more life
to more life
to our life
and your life
and to make this life a green and hopeful life
an urban life within the magical woods
within the chirp of each Spring Peeper
within the chick-a dee-dee-dee dee call of our non-migratory acquaintances
bringing 390 caterpillars to their nests every hour
within the chipmunk hiding in a tiny burrow watching the class of 7th graders tromp by
within prairie smoke and cardinal flower with in common milkweed and echinechia,
within dirty fingernails of gardening club and kids looking for worms
within Paul our beloved snapping turtle
and his goldfish comrade he kept for a few days
before eating it
within a canoe paddling a 100 year old pal down the Milwaukee River
a river that is now home to a beaver again
after years
of not being clean enough to sustain such life
within every drop of water that falls and is collected to flush our toilets,
fill our pond, wash our buses
within the 256 solar electric panels on our roof
absorbing and transforming the powerful rays to warm these walls and spaces.
within these walls fermentation fest, and green birding challenge and Native Landscaping open house and family mystery dinners

Within these walls the buzz of a new generation
learning the ways of the old generations
and the generations before that and before that
and learning what we can do to change and fix

and hope
and dream
and help

Within and outside these walls calloused hands of volunteers picking garlic mustard
wet hands of volunteers making paper
greasy hands fixing our bikes
soft and weathered hands to help guide and teach
within these walls the buzz still resonates after years after years after years of a trailer
borrowing power with an extension cord into the high school

Within these walls, new walls and new branches emerge to the outside
to the west and to the south
to more communities, neighborhoods, families and friends
to the lagoon and the bridges
to the trees and the prairies
outside these walls the buzz continues to the rivers to the lake to the ponds to the hills and ravines and pulse of the earth
taping into the veins of this city and making them green
making the buzzing grow louder and louder
the chirps and peeps, the howling and conversations
the laughter and knowledge, the science and community
the children and us slightly older children
the teachers and the learners
and the sizzle and pop of hope and change

and the consistent buzz of life.

MaryBeth Kressin

MaryBeth Kressin

MaryBeth Kressin is the Facility Rental Coordinator for all three branches and part of the Visitor Services Team. When she is not working hard booking your party, setting up for your wedding, giving tours or helping at the front desk you can find her biking, cooking, reading in her garden or helping her husband renovate their house. She loves being outside, feels passionately about recycling and animals and is honored to be part of the Urban Ecology Center.


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