Three Poems

Estero Bay Buffer Preserve

Alone at the trailhead, I touch the charred trunks of slash pines,
gather the ashes of saw palmettos with my fingers, and squeeze.

I imagine cotton mice, orb-weavers, and scrub lizards clambering
for the salvation of a gopher tortoise burrow. Who ate who,

thirty feet under the flames, and whose remains do I hold?
I move farther into the scrub, strain through sugar sand.

A woodpecker clings to a snag, red head drumming a warning:
my territory. Who remembers what month the native grasses

glow pink? When do the butterfly orchids bloom? Maybe last
spring I saw pools teem with oak toad tadpoles, who swam

joyous in the absence of fish, but now I must sidestep a feral hog,
wallow next to dried out deer tracks. Where are the warblers,

the wrens? Head deeper, past buzzards perched on driftwood
skeletons, and scan sandstone for fossils. What does it feel

like to wander a desert? Summer rains will flood these flats,
but this journey ends dry before mangrove tangles one

can not navigate. I want to plow through to the bay and study
the secrets the islands keep. Seek the oak that guards flatwoods

from salt marsh tides. Fiddler crabs surround it, a beached
leviathan, whose roots sprawl as wide as its wind-whipped branches.

Gated Community

I fish for fire ants
     under the pavers,
sever the sewer grate,
     swim in the reeds, jump
through the canal to make waves in the gulf,
bend the road until torrents flood,
crack the cul-de-sac so the lichen grows,
     roll in the mulch, eat the weeds,
palpate the sprinkler heads, sweep the drive,
dust the shutters, congratulate the webs,
     celebrate the hive,
     peel the sod, dig through crushed
     shell in the fill, nestle in sand,
bathe in an aquifer, taste the sulphur,
     rest in the mangrove tangles til dusk,
covet the bats swishing and hunting
     by the gate house tonight.

You Pick

In the Appalachians climb the peaks and clutch the rails, burp ginger ale at the general store,

fish in Maggie Valley and wonder who Maggie was, feed a deer a potato chip, rent a boat
to tour the cold lake, drop your car keys, stretch for them, sink to the secret mountain

In the Piedmont see a sign that says you pick or we pick and laugh when Sean thinks it means

you can pay people to pick your nose, drink apple cider at Horney’s Hollow, walk high
and low on the foothills trails, startle turkeys in the thicket, canoe on the Haw River
where the water flows southeast off the plateau.

In the Coastal Plain touch roadside tobacco leaves, swallow moonshine at the race track,

enter the National Hollerin’ Contest in Spivey’s Corner, pick berries and pray to God you
don’t startle the black bear, kayak at high tide in the Great Dismal Swamp, ride the low
tide out to Albemarle Sound.

In the Outer Banks climb the dunes and reach for wild horses, stay at Peppertree and ask

Dad if pepper grows on trees, fall asleep on the pier, lower the crab trap, drink margaritas
from a bucket, stumble from Cape Lookout to Cape Fear, imagine you are one grain of
shifting grit in the Graveyard of the Atlantic, wade out to the sandbar.

About Marnie Heenan

Marnie Heenan lives in Fort Myers, Florida with her husband and son. She has a BA in English language and literature from Florida Gulf Coast University with a minor in creative writing. Her work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Three Drops Press, Bacopa Literary ReviewScifaikuest, and in several Alliance for the Arts projects.

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