THE EARTH TAUGHT HER CHILDREN TO BEFOUL HER

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The earth taught her children to befoul her.

You are my Central Park.

You are the landscape for loving a shadow’s deepening.

You are the landscape for which I apply.

You are the landscape not of talk or thought

But the glittering that goes on in the sparrow’s eye.

In the middle of the gleaming, teeming city I return to nature.

In your body I slowly know nature as I never did.

Where is the snake—feeding on the minnow in the stream—I hid?

Your trees, your fertility, your face of faceless architecture

Emitting sighs, would make Frederick Olmsted drop

And Wordsworth his cunning Prelude stop.

Of course I had long plans, and still do,

But when I became your friend

I realized that you were long in the planning, too.

You did not simply go along or get along

And that is how I found you in my song.

I had to amend my every idea of nature.

The Central Park of my youth where I found polliwogs was you.

You, the vista and the view.

You, the tangled branches shading the stream;

The snake-filled stream which haunted me in many a silent but riotous dream,

You, my prophecy—had you been seen,

Walking the margins of the dream-park with your plans,

Would I have fallen deeper? It is a joy to analyze—

Even though I cannot, when I peer into your eyes.

I paced the porch and considered the morality

Of the bridge between home and nature.

The talk of the “Father of Landscape Architecture”

Posited against you smiling in the swamp—

This is where I thrilled to journey, not knowing then

That loving the earth was incest,

And reading downward a sin.

I can only vow to love you under sky and sky

More, even more, when I love you again,

And this time at no time be afraid to die.

 

 

 

 

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