To the eyes of the man of imagination,

Nature is imagination itself.

  — William Blake

Who needs half a million unpronounceable forms of life

Half a world away?  Ah, you do, they say,

And enumerate the ways:

            Glues, dyes, inks,

            Peanuts, melons, tea,

            Golf balls, paint, and gum,

            Mung beans, lemons, rice,

            And a fourth of all the medicines you take,

            And a fifth of all the oxygen you breathe,

            And countless life-prolonging secrets their wild cousins know

            to tell the Iowa corn and the garden tomato.

            And if that’s not enough, think of rubber-

            and where we’d all be, rattling down the Interstate

            on wooden wheels.

And that’s only the stuff we know how to use,

And that’s only the half-million species we know how to name.

And in the time it took to tell you this

Five thousand acres more are gone.

And by the time that this year’s kindergarten class

is thirty-five, most of what is now alive —

But wait.  What if — What if this deluge of mind-boggling

statistical connectedness were, true as it is,

only the least of it? What if the real necessity

were of another kind, the connection

not with what you consume, or do, but who you are?

With your own imagination, the necessity there

of places that have not been cleared to till,

of the luxury of all that buzzing in the deep,

of a glimpse of feather or translucent insect wing

a color that’s so new it tells you light and sound

are, indeed, just matters of degree, and makes your vision hum

And makes you think the universe could hum

in something like the wild, teeming equilibrium

of the rain forest.

Hilde Weisert is a Dodge Poet for the Geraldine Dodge Poetry Foundation and a past recipient of a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. Her poetry has appeared in such magazines as Ms, Southern Poetry Review, The Sun, and Ironwood. She is a co-founder of the Society for Veterinary Medicine and Literature. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC and Sandisfield, MA.