Poetry and Nature

Written by MaryBeth Kressin
    Monday, 23 April 2018
Poetry and Nature

As the end of April rounds the snowy bend, we reflect back on National Poetry Month and how the very best writers have intertwined words with nature. From the poetry of Mary Oliver (“There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees…”) to Walt Whitman (“Give me a field where the unmow’d grass grows… Give me solitude, give me Nature, give me again O Nature your primal sanities!”) throughout time people have beautifully captured the essence of the world outdoors.

Here at the Urban Ecology Center, we find poetry in the children and classes that come through our doors, conversations we strike up with neighbors, garlic mustard we pull and birds we tag. There is a song in the coffee mugs with hot cocoa and coffee and a rhythm in the snow shoes and bikes being loaned out (all in the same week… thanks Wisconsin!).
In this month of poetry, I took a moment to reflect on where I came from and how the natural world was my catalyst connection as a child to guide me to the environmental life I live now. With the help and encouragement of the Earth Poets and musicians who perform here at Riverside Park around every Earth Day for Earthstravaganza poetry night, I wrote about my green childhood memories and the start of this “one wild and precious life” (thanks, Mary Oliver!).

How do I talk about the field I grew up in?
Now 3 single family homes with 2 car
garages driveways manicured lawns
exist there.
But back then… life & bugs, plants & moments.

A tall magical dancing swaying symphony
that we’d spend the whole summer in.
The breath of the world pushing us forward.

It was wheat and we were pioneers living off the land
pulling each head of Hungarian Brome and Prairie Dropseed
a purr between our pointer and thumbkin
or maybe it was
pprrrrrrrrrrrrrrr pprrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
harvesting grain for our Barbies and trolls.

Each teardrop sustenance
meticulously plopped
into the melted snow and ice
we collected in empty milk gallons throughout spring.
We infused and created elixirs and potions
selling them at our perfumery on the edge of the wild
where mowed civilization met monstrous expanse.

We’d run so fast - we were crows in a Van Gogh painting.
The wisps and whips of the grass tickling and itching our freckled summer arms.
We laughed so hard and so long
never knowing why.
Maybe the clouds told us a joke as we laid on our backs
the unlimited skies taking
our breaths away by the immense
possibilities of the future.

We would lay there in our field of imagination
The world so far away.
The tall grass flitting fluttering back and forth back and forth
We’d disappear and reappear and disappear
again and again.

Field blog

Photo: Phyllis Bankier

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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