There was once a marsh here, full of birdsong
and the hum of bugs. Now a road is stretched
across it, a self-congratulatory grin with flattened
frogs stuck between its teeth. The cars whizzing
past have their windows up, the air conditioner’s
blast drowning out the peepers’ chorus. The car’s
inhabitants don’t notice the snowy egret stalking
the bog, dipping its needle beak into the water.
It holds still until the threat of its shadow
is forgotten, and then stabs its own reflection
and hauls a pale-bellied frog from its hiding spot.
This should be a warning to us all. This should
be a reminder not to fall for our own lies,
specifically the one where we tell ourselves
we are safe in our houses, only to be snatched,
sudden as a heart attack, and swallowed whole
by a long-necked darkness. There was once
a marsh here, with all its damp cacophony,
but now there’s only part of a marsh and
the sound of traffic. The shadow of the part
that’s gone exists only in the memories of those
both old enough to have seen it and young
enough to remember. They too will soon
be gone, like the white bird startled to flight
by a sudden squeal of tires and its abrupt end.