sna poems #94: whitefish bay dunes

it was a hot one. i visited whitefish bay dunes—what the wdnr calls “the largest and most significant Great Lakes dunescape in Wisconsin”—when it was in the mid-90s. tough going but very focused, and not many other folks on the trails. the dunes range from open beach right on the lake to heavy forest a couple dunes back.

i took the northern trail to “old baldy” (the highest dune in wisconsin at 93 ft above lake level), which came out of northern mesic forest into open glades of juniper and fern, not to mention all sorts of small, ground-hugging plants i hadn’t the slightest clue on. very unique habitat inhabited by very unique flora. after climbing up baldy i took the southern trail back, which lulls thru a forest of balsam fir, white cedar, and birch on the backside of the fore dune—very fragrant and pleasant despite the heat, especially along the hollows.

(by the way, i love that the wdnr uses the word “dunescape.”)


thimble berry thick

on the midday sunning earth

dune asks nothing


porcupines are there somewhere

behind aspen stumps

and miniature fountains of moss


juniper and fern

are friends

in the dune-glen


solitude here on tallest dune

as aspens crest-quake

no one else so foolish in the heat


words are bountiful

but no smell of balsam fir

touch of outcropping

if you got this far: look at this snail doing her balancing act on top of a small forb (about six inches tall at most). it was eery and delightful.

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