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The Dao of Nature

By Cristina Eisenberg

Amid pandemic pandemonium,
global waves of death,
chaos and confusion,
I shelter in place
in our wild mountain home,
roaming our land, senses sharpened,
turning to nature for lessons,
as I always have.

Deep sustenance flows
from life’s phenological pageant:
the raucous vernal return
after a cold, hard winter
of red-winged blackbirds
perched on last year’s cattails,
blaring their buzz-songs
for all the world to hear;
western meadowlarks lighting on fence posts,
lifting their flute songs into the wind;
mountain bluebirds pulsing neon-bright
flying low across the meadow’s swale,
as sandhill cranes prance in the wetland beyond.
Vesper sparrows buzz through dead grass,
while bluebunch wheatgrass sprouts
through patchy spring snow.
Grizzly bear mothers wayfare
from their montane dens,
greenup drawing them down to the valley,
tender new cubs at their side.
The puma skulks just within the trees,
gauging the vulnerability of hormonal wild turkeys.

Each implacably follows their dao,
way-making across the arc of the seasons
on faith and hope
as they always have,
long before humans walked this earth,
and as they always will.


—Cristina Eisenberg
April 15, 2020


Cristina Eisenberg holds a BFA in Painting and an MA in Conservation Biology and Environmental Writing, and a PhD in Forestry and Wildlife. She has a post doctoral appointment at Oregon State University, where she teaches. She has also been appointed as a Smithsonian Research Fellow and a Boone and Crockett Club Professional Member. As a scientist she studies how wolves affect ecosystems throughout the American West. Her first book, The Wolf’s Tooth: Keystone Predators, Trophic Cascades, and Biodiversity, was published in 2010 by Island Press. Her second book, The Carnivore Way: Coexisting with and Conserving America’s Predators, will be published in May 2014, also by Island Press. She is the nonfiction editor of the literary journal Whitefish Review. Her work has been published in a variety of scientific and literary journals and books.