Let us secure our assets:
Bright, laundry-day air
Water we can drink
A place to walk and daydream
The rush of water, the quiet pulse
Of the earth and those who share it:
Ants and otters, earwigs and eagles,
Birch and aspen, lichen and seaweed,
Ourselves and one another.
Let us manage our wealth:
Land that can keep giving
To all who come to receive,
Creeks that meander and deepen
Sedge at their margins knitting
Them into place, trout
Dreaming in their shadows,
Forests that mature and decay
And spill their dividends to the future.
They will only grow in value.
Author's note: This poem was written during a period when western lawmakers were insistent on taking public lands away from the public. This cycle reached its peak a couple of years ago and has since retreated in the face of citizen opposition, but it waits like a troll under a bridge, always hungry to abscond with what belongs to us all. I was inspired to write it after seeing yet another ad from a lawyer who specializes in asset protection.
In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and the National Elk Refuge make up 97% of Teton County. A few state legislators consider this an outrage, while the rest of us call it a gift beyond all imagining. The photo that inspired the poem (at the top of the post), titled forest-refuge-park, was taken from the national forest looking across the elk refuge to the Tetons beyond.
Susan Marsh lives with her husband, cat, and dog in Jackson, Wyoming. Marsh’s writing explores our human ability to discover the secrets within the land and ourselves through encounters with wild nature, and how we change as a result. Marsh worked for over 30 years as a public land steward in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Her poems have appeared in Clerestory, Dark Matter, Manzanita Review, and other journals.
Banner image courtesy the poet.