A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
In Branchville, New Jersey, home of Bear Swamp,
I’m with the Frugal Traveler & to prove I’m no stranger
to frugality, I find a $57-a-night special
with a bathroom painted Easter Bunny green
& a chair that wobbles on funny rollers. We’re lucky.
We both can sleep through rumbly back-road noise,
brought knapsacks full of books.
I think: My friend grew up in a place like this
(so different from LA). He hiked, fished & scouted,
while I read & wheezed & lip-synched
Barbra Streisand. Did he really go ice-fishing?
What was it like, having brothers?
The August heat has morphed the daisies
—or are they black-eyed Susans—
into a thousand drooping yellow teepees. I’m learning
what grows on backwater ponds & streams.
It’s worth half-wrecking the tires,
driving down this gravel road to find
the smallest flowers in the world.
What shelters bluegills & bullfrogs,
what carries more protein than even soybeans.
What we find to sustain ourselves:
double leaves, single root, air pockets
so buoyant that the tiny flowers just float—
Copyright 2018 Joan E. Bauer
Previously published in 5 AM. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.