Bulrush Ritual

1. Marsh Summons   


You, who mobilized my seed to filter your nitrogen-clogged streams,
                     come down from your hills, abandon your golf-course greens.       


You, who grew me like a hank of fur to cover up your patch of dirt,
                    wade your slacks through muck, smear your waxen face with mud.      


You, who raised my stalks to buffer the shit-spattered floods,

                   flush down your skin and bones, join the waterbody’s blood.


You, who made me a component in your water sanitation machine, 

                   did you forget that you too must pass through the bulrushes?  


2. Watershed Ceremony 


Eject from sprinkler heads, choke on pesticide-soaked lawns,

tumble down storm drains, taste the acrid sting of paint and solvents,

merge in concrete canals, foam yellow at the oil-dripping mouth,    

spin feverishly in brown eddies, lacerated by shards of a sickle moon,

fork through reeded teeth, wallow in the murk of shadowed shallows. 


The muddrum pounds you, 

the seed tassels rattle you,

the pond frog gulps you,       

the sharp sedge slashes you, 

the root sieve sifts you,

the bulrush imbibes you.         


3. Stand of Mirrors


My voice bellows down the wind-shafted corridors. 

My words echo through the porous walls. 


I am the beginning of land, the end of water.  

I am the end of water, the beginning of land.


My head is below, 

                   a submerged skein of rhizomatic roots. 

My bottom is above, 

                   a crisscrossed thatch of lizard tails.


My cells capacious as the pelican’s throat.

My membranes bountiful as brimming ponds.          


Lean over the water’s edge, peer into turbid depths. 

Is it my gnarled face you see, or yours? 


4. Restoration Carnival  


reconfigure energetic molecules   

effervesce atmospheric nitrogen

oxygenate asphyxiated waters 

suffuse anoxic mud with bacteria      

nibble with minnow throngs   

take the cormorant’s bold plunge 

play with the blue fire of dragonflies 

wear the painted mask of ducks

await the blue heron’s launch   

through the child’s sparkling eyes

shower a confetti of seeds 

feast on intoxicating nutrients

taproot-dance in barren soil 

chant the bulrush body fertile   

revive, revive, revive! 



Raised in Virginia, Charlie lives with his girlfriend and two unruly cats in California. His creative writing can be found in Strange Horizons, Naugatuck River Review, First Literary Review-East, and The Fourth River. An environmental journalist and writer, he delights in the humor and weirdness of the natural world. You can find him on LinkedIn 

Photo by sofia wang on Unsplash

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