The Natural World
Dale Ritterbusch

There is a brooding loveliness in this swamp,
patterned shadow lying quietly
on the brackish water, trees flourishing
half-submerged, a loveliness as eternal
as men finding faith among the faithless.
My old cedar canoe is at rest,
and the water is so still, the odor
of health. It is only an imagination
which perturbs the depths, discovery
of cells disruptive, lymph nodes
swollen like the belly of a snake
after a good and nourishing kill; for years
the prostate grows, an additional piss
in the night and then more until
there is no more. The surface breaks,
and something sinks beneath: predator
or prey, it makes so little difference.
Always, something is eaten alive.

Dale Ritterbusch is the author of two collections of poetry and an eleven-time Pushcart nominee. He recently retired as a Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and twice served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Air Force Academy.