Nature Never Needs Recharging,
its network never goes down, including here
at Big Rock Elementary, where I tell my students
we’re putting on our coats, going outside
in search of images. Past the manicured playground,
the bleachers, toward and beyond the fence
where Cody runs past me, yelling slug eggs!
I point to trees and flowers and birds, say their names:
Red alder. Licorice fern. Douglas fir. Together,
we listen to the Oak-a-REE of a red-winged blackbird,
the raspy call of an eagle soaring overhead.
Together, we touch the bark of a Hawthorne tree,
admire the fat buds of a big-leaf maple.
I tell each child to choose an artifact,
bring it to their desks. Back inside,
Carmen keeps asking, what’s this called?
It’s a blackberry leaf, I say. Smiling, she twirls it. Sniffs.
An ant hitched a ride on Simon’s pinecone.
Tyler wants to know how to tell an osprey
from a hawk. Peyton asks if it’s okay
he chose a dead leaf. The room is alive
with rocks and twigs. The poems they write
are crawling with spiders, wiry like lichen,
swaying with catkins, quiet like clumps of moss.
Nature has no username or password. Its signal
is always strong. All you need to do is stand
in a field, let your shoes get wet in the knee-deep grass.
Martha Silano’s fifth full-length poetry collection, Gravity Assist, appeared from Saturnalia Books in 2019. Previous collections include Reckless Lovely and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, both from Saturnalia Books. Co-author of The Daily Poet: Day-by-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice, Martha’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, and the Best American Poetry series, among others. Honors include North American Review’s James Hearst Poetry Prize and Cincinnati Review’s Robert and Adele Schiff Award. She teaches at Bellevue College and Seattle’s Richard Hugo House.