From the Anthology 

Reflections of the Land

Mary Oliver's Parking Lot

(RIP 1935-2019)

Jill Sell

if there is a God

I hope He/She does not let

Mary Oliver look down

and see what has become

of the beloved Ohio woodland  

in Maple Heights

where she thrived

where she

tramped among huge tulip trees

skipped among trilliums,

mayapples, jack-in-the-pulpits

and skunk cabbage with giant leaves

and an odor fitting its name

where she

wetted her feet in vernal ponds

rich with American bullfrogs

waded in cold streams finding

northern red salamanders

with tiny black spots 

where she

played hide and seek with striped chipmunks

and was quiet when

white-tailed does passed 


I have been to her woods

as a child, teen, adult

as an old lady

in spring, summer, fall and winter

and I know why spring especially 

turned her fingers to roots

writing their stories on her paper 

yes, some of the woods

was saved for parkland 

but even there

paved rollerblade paths replace deer trails

styrofoam coffee cups on the ground

block buttercups   

and you can’t hear the calls of

a downy woodpecker—

drowned by the constant drone

of vehicles shortcutting to highways

dear God, don’t let Mary look down

Author Bio

Jill Sell is a freelance journalist, essayist and poet, specializing in nature and environmental writing. Sell is co-founder of Three Women In the Woods: Words and Images, a collaboration between a poet, nature photographer and fine artist. Her poems have been read, published and displayed at Allwood Audubon Center and Farm, Holden Arboretum, Riverside Gardens/Mill Creek Metro Parks, John S. Seiberling Gallery/Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and many other nature centers, botanical gardens and parks. Wildflower magazine (published by The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center) and The Trumpeter (an environmental humanities journal) are among her favorite publications that have published her writing. Sell lives in Sagamore Hills with her herb garden, trilliums and jack-in-the pulpits and a wonderful weedy lawn that will never be treated by chemicals.