Urban Wilderness

Margaret Owen Ruckert
‘See our little lizards,’ I remarked to a neighbour,
visiting one afternoon. ‘Aren’t they gorgeous?’
‘Actually, Margaret, they’re water skinks.’

I shrank to ground level, shattered by incompetence.
Why did I reduce this amazing life-form to stereotype?
Their lives sustain my curiosity, wake me to the seasons.

If ignorance of the law can’t be excused, what about wildlife?
I’d studied plants, content to leave animals to others. 
That day, my cold embarrassment gave way to awareness.
My backyard is a nursery of wildlife, 
a wide wooden patio, their sun deck.
Skinks pop up like periscopes for an ‘all-clear’.

Today, one skink rests its head 
on the sleek bronzed body of another.
Their baby stays close, draping its tail over a ledge.

I’m a helpless, captivated voyeur, 
basking in the warmth of their beauty,
occasionally on tip-toe to reward them a caterpillar.

Margaret Owen Ruckert is a prize-winning poet and widely published. Two books You Deserve Dessert and musefood (an IP Book of the Year) explore café culture. Her latest, Sky on Sea, views Sydney waterways through the lens of tanka. As Facilitator of Hurstville’s Discovery Writers she presents regular writing workshops.



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