sna poems #67: pickerel lake fen

pickerel lake fen is, well, a lake and a fen. the calcareous fen is large, seeping out of a glacial ridge, and is one of the most biologically diverse fens in s.e. wisconsin. the lake is still frozen but the edge is thawing to reveal all sorts of small life if the eye will rest long enough to see. the uplands are turning back to prairie after being farmed, and good tall oaks in their openings dot the fen-edge. several plants are protected here.

thanks to the wisconsin chapter of the nature conservancy for tending this land.


sun and earth-tilt

discover the fen’s

living heart


eagle white on blue sky

as geese browse prairie

heady blend of gravel and oak


the lake shore muck

an invertebrate paradise

and we share them for a moment


miniature crevasse,

ablation in miniature—

harmless wintertime

state natural area poems #51: clover valley fen

clover valley fen contains a series of 8-10 ft high peat mounds that began building around a set of springs 11,500 years ago(!). sedge meadow and woods surround the fen mounds, and whitewater creek runs thru it all. the iced-over wetland was a maze of frozen tussocks, some a foot over the ice. the fen mounds were spectacular, with spring water still visibly running off below the ice.


i stand on 11,000-

year-old peat, massive—

morning sun casts long shadow


bryophytes make a frozen home

on patchwork of tawny fen

the springs give them life


stilting our way

over calcium-rich waters

deer have set blazes

state natural areas #50: bluff creek

bluff creek is fed by hardwater springs and seepages from a morainal ridge. the surroundings contain mound fens, dry-mesic woods, wet-mesic prairie, and sedge meadow. it’s a watery and grassy melange! one of the season’s first sticking snowfalls decorated the terrain for the morning’s hike.


wild thrushes over the spring run

and snow-capped goldenrod bowing

the fen-world opens its cold, wet arms


waxwings in the birch grove, a crest

flexes and relaxes—to the branch,

buckthorn berry in beak

thanks to wisconsin’s dnr for tending this land and its many water features.

state natural area poems #22, a & b: karcher springs


dried remnant of the year

seed capsules blow in the driving wind

yet your stream flows on clear


graceful tumult at the boggy

edge. fringed gentian

crowns the cooling fen

karcher springs is a calcareous fen along a marl-bottomed stream sourced in springs flowing out of a wooded esker. what more can i say? thanks to the wisconsin dnr for tending this land.