Koan #5: Ted Stone Morning

Home, prairie-muck dried
onto the seams of my field pants,
hiking boots splattered with mud,
hair in pleasant disarray.
The scent of freedom
still clings to me.
Just an hour before,
by watch-time,
by two-legged time,
by analog hands or digital face,
I stood in a place
14,000 years in-the-making,
a glacier’s passing,
strewn with dolomite and limestone
crumbling, soft-edged rocks,
and the whimsy of a universe
where lands stretch, wrinkle,
move in slow motion.
Barbara gave me her tour
of this prairie she nurtures
which belongs to all Chicagoans.
(But really isn’t it clear by now –
all wild places
are God’s first?)
Gray praying mantis cocoon,
pasture rose topped by
a berry-looking ovary,
drooping little blue stem grass;
we met on sacred ground
where she pointed out
how females recreate nature,
how life goes on
through our tenacity.


Inspired by a morning at Ted Stone Preserve and an interview with Barbara Birmingham, site steward there with her husband George for 14 years. Reprinted in ‘City of Big Shoulders: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry.’ Ryan G. Van Cleave, Editor. 2012.

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