Within the Endangered Forest


In Apalachicola spring, violet is the first word,
then follows dogwood, red bud, and Acer rubrum
earliest to spatter the hardwood forest in color.
In Apalachicola spring, we tongue the names
of trees beginning to leaf: Bald cypress sheathed
in a green gleam, the green cloaks of oaks unfold. 
In Apalachicola spring, we recite these words:
Where a finger of the last great glacier stamped
a corner of Florida and gouged the riddled limestone
beneath, it shaped a broad river bed, steep and narrow
ravines, tightly knitted to weeping ridges, a place
of seeps, rivulets, rim swamps on the flood plain.
We say how the indelible firm touch of ice—
the scouring weight of it—carved a modest landscape,
a tiny kingdom, an isolated niche, a rare refugium
for Torreya taxifolia. We say again: Torreya taxifolia,
the last two words of an Apalachicola spring.