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Lola Haskins - “From Book of the Everglade"

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. 


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?