BioBlitz 2011 Adds 400 Species — and 94 Poems

Not only did 5,500 people spend Friday and Saturday out in Saguaro National Park counting everything from fungi to water bears, but nearly 100 poets contributed poems to the cause as well.

The Poetic Inventory of Saguaro National Park was an additional part of the National Geographic BioBlitz 2011. Organized by poet and artist Eric Magrane, invited regional poets were given a choice of two Saguaro species as subjects. Some poets were filmed reading their poems, and the video loop was shown at the Red Hills Visitor Center during the weekend. Others were invited to read their work at the visitor center either Friday or Saturday. Poets could also add all or part of their poems to a Jaguar Biodiversity Quilt that will be travelling around the state and can also submit their work to a special issue of the literary journal Spiral Orb.

According to KOLD-TV, volunteers added 400 species to the biota of the park. Two stories of the event are here and here.

I was only there Saturday, but from what I saw, the whole event was beautifully organized, from the shuttle buses, to the informational tents, to the 24 hours of data-gathering, to the poetic inventory.

I was honored that my poem was chosen to close the Poetic Inventory:

Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

I push your wheelchair up the hill 
behind the nursing home to the palo verde’s lacy shade. 
You help lock the brakes, I settle on the curb, and we sit, 
talking quietly—almost like the lovers we were
before the stroke blossomed through your brain, its branches snaking deep,
snuffing neurons, dimming your bright youthful mind, 
leaving your left side limp dead weight.

As we fall silent, wrapped in the Rincon mountain vista 
and memories of shared hikes and backcountry trips, 
a lanky form with black tufted ear tips and stubby tail 
emerges from the urban trash-entangled desert, prickly pears festooned
in grocery bags, gravel strewn with old carpet pieces, 
fast-food cups, a discarded pail. 

Ambling across the driveway, some hapless rodent swinging
inertly from its jowls, the regal bobcat doesn’t deign to look our way. 
It strolls between parked cars, then nestles in among the lantana, 
its blotches blending into the building’s drab beige walls— 
and disappears.

Thank you, Babe, you whisper, for bringing me here. 

No, I think, 
my face as wet with tears as yours.

Thank you, Bobcat, for bringing a gift of wildness that links us
to our past and—I pray—our future.