Heyen is a native of one of the townships of Suffolk County, Long Island, which was the fastest growing county in the nation during the generation it became a sprawling bedroom suburb of New York City. His memoir is an attempt to hold on to a vanishing landscape as lakes are filled in, farms turn into housing tracts and shopping centers, wildlife disappears. The primacy of Nature is the overriding value in poems like ""Legend of the Tree at the Center of the World,"" ""Clamming at St. James Harbor,"" and ""The Odor of Pear."" Their tragic sensibility turns on the gradual historical loss of the Island's innocence -- beginning with the advent of rapacious European first settlers, culminating in accidents and traffic jams on the Jericho Turnpike where a Dairy Freeze now stands next to Walt Whitman's country schoolhouse. A well-wrought modernistic nostalgia for the ghost of pastoralism past.