What you told me
on that drive
through the Everglades
made me feel
as much a prisoner

as you did when
your mother
placed you,
a gentle phrase,
for something

more barbaric,
in that home,
did you say home,
or institution
for troubled teenagers,

wearing an orange suit
like a criminal;
this coming from a woman
who called us
to berate me

for hiding a series
of rare first editions
in the walls of our house
on McCulloch
and thereby spending

all our money.
I felt like I was
living someone else’s life
or that I was
a fiction

in someone else’s
imagination.
Later we’d go
to the reservation
to gamble

or drive through Royal Palm,
Flamingo, Shark Valley
and Everglade City:
a subtropical preserve
of saw grass prairies

and cypress swamp;
that too seemed unreal
made real only
by their description,
by their (re) telling:

pineland hardwood
hammocks.
Even now I sometimes
wake and hear the call
of an egret

though I know
that there can be
no such thing
outside this window:
no egret, no wood-stork,

no roseate spoonbill.
What I do know
is that someone else
shares my bed now.
She has her own past,

has inhabited her own
fragile eco-systems;
while she sleeps
there is out there a wilderness
of half-remembered lives.

Some of it is
endangered.
Some of it dying.
Sometimes,
you can hear it

cry out
in the form
of the great blue heron.
Look:
it’s landing

on a body
of water, and
you, idle,
resigned, but appreciative
are standing by its banks.