Flat Creek Wetland Overlook

–A poem by Peggy Shumaker


Two dozen downy goslings graze

this stubbled verge,

three parents high-beaked, vigilant.


Beside the walkway,

wingfeathers, tailfeathers,

no blood.


High up then low, swallows careen–

calligraphy through

evening’s hatch of gnats.


A lone Northern Shoveler scoops

marsh muck, sifts and rinses

squirmy gulps, swallows.


One-note calls pepper darkening air

where red shouldered blackbirds bob

on dry reeds, furry cattails


long since gone to seed.

Frog calls round off dim edges

of evening, vowel chorus


come, come come.

Wild eyes we never see

track each step we take,


ease away among aspen.

Wide paws, the tawny

shimmer of muscle under fur,


mountains’ wildness made flesh,

fang, claw. Tiny brown bats tumble,

gasp open/shut. Echoes


tremble beyond our hearing.

Elk roam these flats, sometimes

thousands at a time


meandering these meadows,

thousands of elk breathing

out this air we take deep in.

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