THE WILD CITY
Sprawling across the Kansas and Missouri
River confluence, network of tributaries
woven around bluffs and glaciated hills,
crow-blue in the distance but green, green
as the hearts of trees in the walking,
even today, Kansas City has still-wild parks,
large, well-treed lots, and wooded streams,
homes for foxes, wild turkey, deer, coyote,
interrupting traffic patterns with flight
paths of herons, hawks, and eagles,
a metropolis of small towns linked
by the scent of water and new growth.
Smaller rivers fill out the web
of water that holds the landscape
together, leaf veins feeding surfaces
of green—Blue River, Platte River,
Little Blue River, Little Platte River,
Marais des Cygnes River.
Creeks like Indian Creek, Brush Creek,
Line Creek, First Creek, Second Creek,
Shoal Creek, Willow Creek,
Mill Creek fan out, capillaries
for the breathing system that is the city.
Once, driving along the Little Blue,
I startled at the sudden appearance,
slow flap of huge white wings
banded with black, bright red cap
leading the way ahead of stretched-out
snake neck, legs trailing behind, a legend
rising next to me and taking flight,
whooping crane on migration,
resting and feeding a day or two
in the heart of the city.
When we humans go at last,
by bomb, virus, famine,
disaster, natural or otherwise,
the wild will reclaim Kansas City
in short order, never having completely
released its original hold.
(Published in Cutthroat, a Journal of the Arts, 2016)