Swamp Gas

1. Ignis Fatuus

Reason is
that the way through the world is
often distracted by rough bits—
difficulties, confusions,

sometime moments or hours or longer,
incendiary occasions when
the predominant images seem down-right
ugly.

We must not over-refine these times.
Even tarnished purity lasts,
lingers, smells,
teases the future
with sensate uncertainty.

Those of us who were raised
the weedy scions of carboniferous families
share the advantage
that we are un-reared,
free of homely constraints.

We choose the rivers we paddle about in,
and we share the smell of hubris
and decaying verdure,
ooze of potential energy,
the red-tide bubbles of reality—

outsized salamanders
born out of lightning-struck fern-trees
that reach for the dense ozone
hovering forty feet above ignition.

Newts two meters long
with sloshing eel-tails slop among swamp-edge
ferns and horsetails—

all food and fuel,
waiting out their centuries of languorous appetite
and weighted by Latin names
unfamiliar to all in the rank swank fen
but their Anthropocene descendants
in two-meter eyeglasses.

2. Will-o’-the-Wisp

A feeble muse,
Pieris rapae, Cabbage White,
flutters again out from the igniting flora,
over white-caps into the blue wind
of my attention.

How many summers since last time?
Was it before the winter
my aunt Nancy looked
out her window

and saw
through our blinds closed tight
the woman in white
wintering in our empty house?

Such in-sight is the explosive propellant
of the out-wrought imagination, the
age-damaged spirit guide—

Our concoction of glimmering fantasies
among the accidents of energy,
the madcap defenses
against the adventure of dotage.

Richard Fenton Sederstrom is the writer of six books, including Eumaeus Tends, and Selenity Book Four. His new book Sorgmantel, follows a view of Lucretius, but employs time, the predicate of physics, into a search for what can be imagined out of the possible and impossible. It can be read, perhaps, as an elegy for generations whose existence humankind is threatening, including humankind. Sederstrom was raised and lives in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and the North Woods of Minnesota. Read other articles by Richard Fenton.