Swamp Apocalypse

Leslie Adrienne Miller | Poetry

Though I live in the land of 10,000
lakes, I’m already planning how I’ll thrive
once Nestlé’s bought us out. The trickle
through my swamp side plot is full
of beaver scat, but where they took
the popple out, oaks dug in
and kept the sun from sucking
dry the scrub. We’re not above
eating the rodents here, but we know
to let the beavers have their way.
The real question is: who’s
going to have to learn to use the gun?
The old guy down the road says
he’ll keep watch and isn’t afraid
to shoot, but he’s sure to expire
first, and what it means to be lucky
changes by the hour. Most of us
have never seen a bird like that
said to guide sailors home, said
to invite the most gratuitous acts,
but the swamp will lodge whatever lasts
long enough to come. Sooner or later
everything will show up hungry,
and the beavers are going
to host. We approve the long
gouges in the snow where they write
their ancestral names. We go out now
and sit on their mounds in awe, pray
they’ll add volume every year,
and hope the lake they’re making
is on its way to something vast.
Don’t laugh, you with stilted houses
on the beach: We’re here to remind you
that catchy refrain is only a fragment
of the plague song kids unwittingly
sing. The rest is shot through with verbs
you’re going to want to recognize
when the time comes.