The Emerald City

In the Emerald City

Each verdant leaf is perfectly cut, 

Like a million green stone adzes, 

Full of deep green chlorophyl 

Cutting saltwater, sunlight, and gas 

Into vibrant energy

And shining with the stuff of life


“Wake up, wake up,” say the whipper wills, 

that woosh through the warm evening air, 

Abuzz with insects of all sizes and flavors. 

While the long white quills of a graceful egret 

Gently paint the sunset pink


In the mangrove canopy’s shade, 

In slate and cinnamon colored water

Tiny silver fishes, recently born, school in sunlit shoals, 

Between the buttress roots 

And long legs of a great blue heron

Who takes his time between strikes

Like a picky groom with the hors d’oeuvres


The roots of the sea host anemones, 

Tunicates, barnacles, and bryozoans 

They are alive with colors,

That speak in gentle undertones, 

Some are warm like flickering firelight, 

Others are soft and cool like amethyst and topaz, 

Hidden in the walls of an unexplored cave

It’s a vibrant vaudeville variety show, 

With dancing crabs, hydrozoan feather boas, 

Particle snow, bobbing jellies, glistening spider webs, 

And tidal currents that ebb and flow 


Streams of natural oil, shimmering like marbled fuel 

Collecting and swirling in tight, muddy channels,

Full of freshly dropped mangrove leaves,

Sticks, bark, and spent blossoms

And from out of the ink-black mud,

A thousand gnarled periscopes,

The pneumatophore roots of the black mangrove 

Break the surface and breath life like a giant lung, 

Into the dense, anoxic sediments below


At the mouth of the estuary, in cooler, clearer waters,

Disguised as the pale sand, a guitar fish slides out into the open sea, 

A stingray too flashes her grey skirts on the rippled bottom, 

While a curious silver and crimson mullet makes himself known. 

And a family of bottlenose dolphins, their bellies full, 

Heads home to shallow seas, 

Passing a gentle sea turtle who takes his final breath, 

before pulling into the subtidal forest to sleep.