AT THE JAMAICA BAY WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
In the city there can be no pristine nature.
Too many of us, too much is needed.
The thickest bush, the densest clump of trees, the tallest grass,
are adorned by ubiquitous scraps of discarded paper and plastic.
And the roots of all plants grow amid beer cans.
Moldy newspapers proclaim human events in this pseudowilderness.
Neither is the sky a seamless blue,
The metallic gleam of an airplane wing, the wispiest vapor trail
betray a civilized presence.
Nor can the ear listen only to birdsong
or the breeze blowing among leaves.
Always a distant car horn breaks the contemplative spell,
and the low, soothing, pervasive, humming
is actually the distant roar of highway traffic.
There is no primeval oasis here.
Indeed all this acreage is artifact.
The bird pond was scooped out by a tractor
The basking logs for turtles were placed here for that very purpose.
The marsh seabird nesting site is fenced off,
and patrolled for hungry cats and meddlesome humans.
A gravel path has been cleared for me.
Surely Mother Nature wouldn't be such a gracious host,
a mat of undergrowth to trip my feet,
and barbed rose and blackberry bushes to tear my skin
would be her furnishings.
Nothing of pristine nature is really here.
I stand on a hatching ground for a fledgling idea.
But which idea--
that we are the vassals of the goddess Gaea
or the suzerain curators of her last remains
- Richard Fein