The Everglades

Green and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florida stitched by hungry ibises.

It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.

Turtles bask in the last tatters of afternoon,
frogs perfect their symphony at dusk—

in its solitude we remember ourselves,
dimly, as creatures of mud and starlight.

Clouds and savannahs and horizons,
its emptiness is an antidote, its ink

illuminates the manuscript of the heart.
It is not ours though it is ours

to destroy or preserve, this the kingdom
of otter, kingfisher, alligator, heron.

If the sacred is a river within us, let it flow
like this, serene and magnificent, forever.



Copyright © 2016 by Campbell McGrath. This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.

About this Poem

"The Everglades lacks the obvious drama of some of our most famous natural treasures, such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or Yosemite. It is a more meditative space, a place to lose oneself amid clouds and sawgrass, rather than find oneself dazzled and amazed at earth’s grandeur. It is also, unlike those luckier parks, located in the backyard of a major American city, subject to the relentless pressure of real estate development that fuels Florida’s economy. What does the future hold for the Everglades, how will the future judge our stewardship of its serene beauty?"
—Campbell McGrath