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Prairie Potholes

April 9, 2010

by Sara Parrell

scattered pockets of shallow wetland in the plains of
North America, now threatened by agricultural pollutants
and climate change

Hunters call them sloughs
rife with pintail, muskgrass
& loose-knit duckweed rearranging themselves
with every slosh, those nests & hens
radaring weakness to mink & skunk
nursing hunger in their dens. Some see
the way wet meadows slope less pure
after cattle run & atrazine,
lopsided zeal that kills frog, phalarope—
a dark soot on the face of America.
Some of us slept through, sloth-like,
unaware how much the land can take
before it needs help, loses hope, dries to desert
shot with salt & the godwit’s last solo.
Rise & quench this morning thirst. Dress for
a deep look in shallow ponds.


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Sara Parrell was awarded first prize in the 2008 Poetry Center of Chicago’s Juried Reading; Dancing Girl Press published a chapbook including her winning manuscript for the reading. She also won the Wisconsin People & Ideas magazine’s 2007 poetry contest. Her work has appeared in the Lake Wingra Morning anthology, Nocturne (a collaboration with photographer and musician Thomas Ferrella), the Wisconsin Academy Review and other journals. As a pediatric nurse she has practiced and taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. More recently, she works with children in the public schools. She lives with her husband Grayson Kampschroer in Madison, Wisconsin.

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  1. April 10, 2010 at 11:03 am

    And others, not really sloth-like but slothful,
    Saw what was there, understood, nodded,
    But now distracted by sun as a cloud cleared,
    Being both old and rich, shrugged,
    bent again, and teed up.

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