Three poems by Peggy Shumaker

Peggy Shumaker

Peggy Shumaker

Peggy Shumaker is Alaska State Writer Laureate.  Her most recent book of poems is Gnawed Bones. Her lyrical memoir is Just Breathe Normally. In 2013, Red Hen Press will publish Toucan Nest, a book of poems set in Costa Rica. Professor emerita from University of Alaska Fairbanks, Shumaker teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshop. She is founding editor of Boreal Books, publishers of fine art and literature from Alaska. She edits the Alaska Literary Series at University of Alaska Press.

Lagoon Near la Selva

Through binocs, we bring close
slash eye of the caiman, still

spalted log,
nostril skimming...

splash-grab and toothchomp,
headshake and swallow

murkclouds at pond edge
settle to dank

shoal. Rusty sheen
burnishes the wood rail's wing.

Bare-throated tiger heron
tilts on his snag.

Ringed kingfisher rattles,
fresh from her riverbank,

mud-walled tunnel where
parents trade off tending

from this season's clutch
one chick left.




Rain at Trogon Lodge
        Talamanca Mountain Highlands

Pura vida come purer,
bromeliads replenish
tiny lakes entrusted to their
calderas. Calla lilies
stiffen, sway.

Darting hummers, purple-
throated, green-winged,
whir feeder to fuchsia,
rafter to fig.
Drenched, the world

along dark
soffits. Elastic

shape shift—
puddle, fishpond,
cloud breath.
Iguana's drink, our
moist souls' scrim.




Leaf Cutter Ants

Scouts lay out
scent trails
to meal-ticket trees.

Foragers clear paths
nest to source,

source to nest,
lugging green sails,
forest regatta,

tiny stowaway
high in each crow's nest
keeping an eye out,

in for the long haul,
whole colony's
hitchhiking conscience.

Far down
in chambers, minims
farm fungi, nourish

hard workers,
the burgeoning
brood. Beneath

our feet, strength
in numbers
enormous enough

to undermine church
and state,
homes, gravestones,

any monument
our crew of latecomers
pictures as permanent.