This month’s Versed in Florida is with Lola Haskins of Gainesville. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, and The London Review of Books. She has published 14 collections. They include a CD of poems with cello, poetry about inland Florida, a poetry advice book, fables about women whose names begin with the letter A and a book about Florida cemeteries. She and WGCU’s Amy Tardif talk about those cemeteries as well as her poem “Prayer for the Everglades” today.
FROM BOOK OF THE EVERGLADES (Milkweed)
Prayer for the Everglades
A gumbo-limbo swoons in the arms of an oak.
A royal palm, smooth as sunless skin, rises
against blue. In this whole untouched world
there seems only wind, the grass, and us.
Now silent lines of wood storks appear,
their white wings edged black. Here is
a mathematical question for your evenings.
How many moments like this make a life?
But if it were not true? What if the glades
were a dream, ancient, written on the walls
of caves, so anthropologists peering into
the darkness could say only, it must have
been lovely then, when grass flowed under
the sun like a young woman's falling hair.
What if none of it were true? What if
you and I walked all our afternoons under
smoke, and never saw beyond? What if
the tiny algae that velvet the water, the
gators that pile like lizards on the banks,
the ibis with her sweet curved bill? What if
the turtles that plop off their logs like little
jokes? What if the sheltering mangroves?
Oh what if? Look up, friend, and take my
hand. What if the wood storks were gone?