Shari Wagner: "The Naturalist"




     In memory of Gene-Stratton Porter

     Wildflower Woods, Rome City, Indiana


Two stone owls stand guard   

on puddingstone posts.

Through rain and fog

their round eyes watch

for the joggle of oil lamps

and the figure of Gene, buckled

in high rubber waders,

packing a camera, a tripod

and ladders.


The arbor’s flagstone path,

its twisted wisteria walls

recall her confident step, her

songbird whistles.  They listen

through bee hum

for the shove of her spade


and the cabin still resonates

with her touch on piano keys,

her frailing banjo strum. 

Floorboards speak

of where she angled her desk

to catch northern cardinals

bobbing over snow. 


The light-spattered porch

recollects how she cranked

open the casements

and cecropia moths blew in

to totter on the easel’s wooden ledge.


Near the lake, a rock bench

warmed by a casual sun

still marks the span of silence she cast

as she waited for what came

on its own accord.




Shari Wagner's poetry has appeared in Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac, Shenandoah, North American Review, The National Wetlands Newsletter, and Christian Century.  Evening Chore, her first book of poems, was published in 2005 by Cascadia Publishing House.