Big Bog

plank road on wetland
The boardwalk leads past stunted spruce,
yellow lady’s slippers and boreal tamaracks,
then over peaty turf punctuated with
cotton grass, Labrador tea, and laurel.
We came mostly to see the pitcher plants
farther out in the sphagnum moss,
a few with red petals still clutched like a fist
on a slim stem above the tubed leaves.
But many are dry from drought
in this landscape where expected green
has bleached to brittle brown,
except for dips from frost heaves
or missteps on the spongy mat
that sank into tannic water.
This remnant of glacial lake
proved over and over unfit
for human plans of extraction,
despite attempts to drain it for farmland,
despite bombs dropped on test sites
that were swallowed up by flarks.
Lowland, wasteland,
wilderness, 5,000 years old—
tread lightly and look for rare species.
Survival in the future depends on
adaptation to the present.

Charlotte Melin

Charlotte Melin has published widely about German poetry and the environmental humanities. Retired from the University of Minnesota, she lives in Northfield and has pivoted to writing projects that make space for poems.