A female black swallowtail
as she threads her tongue
to nectar pools.
A hind wing morphs
into stained glass
high sun pours through.
Rows of yellow dots on black
define her gender and repeat
refined along her abdomen.
In these woodland meadows,
her wings are church enough
to seize my eyes
and lift them wondering to sky.
Lives lived in low shade where
light must dapple down through
green and dancing leaves
can suddenly deny the weight of shadow
and break into blossom and bright.
So this flower bursts into my eyes
unexpected but assured,
for lives lived in shade do emerge.
Daisy fleabane seduces a pair
of northern crescent butterflies,
little flowers for little flutterbys.
But the crescents may fly off
without paying their pollen bill,
for will what collects on bee fur
stick to smooth tube tongues?
Juvenile cranes practice the mating dance
in a meadow greening after fire.
One leaps, leaps high, to emphasize
his strength of thigh,
two spread wings erect to show how wide.
Two watchers take these exertions as their due,
as many kinds of females do.
None of these are quite mature.
Not till the boys have come of age
will the females show their dancing moves.
Blue-eyed grass blesses
true roadside grass
with its golden sun
in its own blue petal sky.
Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium spp.) is a relative of wild iris.
An eight-spotted forester moth
has emerged from its cocoon
in Virginia creeper leaves
where it basks in sun and
--who knows?—mulls its new life.
Now it must find a mate and all.
Below the moth, two natty
rose chafer beetles enact
Spring romance as if to remind
the moth to get with the program
before another bird bites its wing
or carries it to gaping nestlings.
A bluebird waits
for the danger of me
Its mate waits
for danger to pass
on a near branch,
bug in beak.
The bugs will try to plug
wide mouths in the nest,
Bluebird eyes search
dawn to dusk
for bugs to catch
to plug the gapes
that are bottomless.
The young will fledge
and go away to
Then the parent pair
from dawn to dusk
will raise a second batch.
I will try to not pass by.
Twelve-spot skimmer dragonfly, bright.
The twelve are dark as night.
Young male, his spots of white
are but suggestions yet
between the black spots on clear wings.
Yellow stripes his thorax and abdomen;
points of yellow spark behind his eyes,
all decked out for flight
and when mature, fight for mates
who, sadly, now look just like himself.
How’s a boy to know?
He has to wait
until his abdomen turns blue-white
and those white spots between the dark
entirely fill with light.
Standing on one leg intrigues
this two-legged man, whether
it’s a sleepy sanderling or this
great blue heron in a tree.
Why does this stance charm?
Is it the pensive reserve
a one-leg stance evokes?
Have I seen too many photos
of Masai herdsmen standing so?
Enough. It charms.
Wherefore I do not know.
I see a dragonfly like none I’ve seen,
a face a mother could love,
though I do love it too.
Huge green divided eyes,
pale yellow face,
wide wings lipped with gold.
top stripes on the thorax.
Down the long abdomen a line
of golden rockets punctuated
at the end by delta wings
atop a swollen club of black and gold—
Eureka! Skillet Clubtail!
A Monarch becomes a sudden flower
as she lands upon the lucky green.
The petals of the flower are rimmed
with rows of white on black.
Netted veins dissect bright orange.
How welcome do her wings make sun.
How welcome does the green make sun.
How welcome hums this in my eyes.
Rubies are in flight today,
a radiance of reds.
These jewels perch briefly,
spook easily. All parts
of Rubyspot are plum:
The half-clear domes of eyes--
the metal reds between
grace the thorax too.
Four glowing wings,
even on this clouded day
fling rubies as they fly.
Parent herons dash back and forth
to feed their now enormous nestlings.
Almost ready to fledge, they beat
their wings at nest edge when
no adult is there to beg from
with urgent long open beaks.
From the egg, young herons
wear spiked headdresses
that so aptly fit their manners
I chuckle every time.
When the adult’s crop is empty,
the young birds still besiege,
while the parent tilts her beak to sky,
the stance all parents come to know.
A raccoon family, mother and kits,
have ravaged painted turtle nests,
the kits piping in their need.
Mama Raccoon is a good mother,
she finds turtle scent on sand,
where to dig to feed her kits.
Painted turtle is a good mother,
buries her eggs deep, scuffs away
the marks of digging, but she
cannot scuff away her scent
from the skillful mammal nose
that learned to find reptile eggs
way back when reptiles trembled earth.
We all eat, and in our turn are food..
An estimated 80% of turtle nests provide food for predatory mammals.
Light through feathers catches me again,
in the eye and somehow in the throat,
as the great heron leaves the nest
to quest for fish to feed loud young.
Her tail feathers!
What is the magic in translucence?
Way back when, we licked quartz pebbles
and held them to the sun to see within.
They became for a time pocket talismans,
so fingertips could know again that glow.
This collusion of heron feathers and sun
conjures up that first delight
in the endless blandishments of light.
An angry oriole scolds a crow
he’s already pecked hard on the skull.
His defense of nestlings smolders
red-orange with yellow flicking on his tail.
He has moved the crow a hundred yards,
where the crow rests in a maple.
Not far enough. Oriole snaps beak closed
and flies to rap the thick-skulled crow again.
The two fly off, joined in the ages of their needs.
His colors sting like embers in my eyes.
The hands say it all,
or should I say paws?
the ground squirrel
with thirteen dotted
lines on his long back
stands erect in the stance
of a first grader sent
to the principal’s office,
fingers limp, abject
startled, ears back,
the whole pleading:
Don’t hurt me.
I am innocent as dew.
Such is their hunger for sun rays
that on a deadhead, river turtles
build a pyramid of themselves.
Each turtle that claws up a step
shades the larger one below.
Small is beautiful, or at least warm.
On the left the smallest waits
to clamber on and claw up.
The bottom turtle must spread
and brace the stack with reptile strength,
slow and strong. Good Lord,
They act out our Society!
Wild roses crave the sunny edges
of wood and hedgerow.
Sol and Rose are longtime lovers,
she brightens with his every touch.
As she unfolds her petals
she wafts perfume, pools nectar
at her center, lifts pollen into light,
relaxes to the ministrations
of her golden humming slaves
beneath the radiance of Sol.
A salsify flower unfolds from bud
to offer pollen to Earth’s wing buzz.
Before the last two petals quite
release their twined sepals,
a small green bee has caressed
almost all the pollen gold
onto her furred back legs,
both flower and small bee
styling now in gold and green.
A corona of pastel slippers, white and pink
blossoms from leaves like fern fronds.
Some name crown vetch ‘weed’.
Some name crown vetch ‘soil heal’.
Some call the vine a beauty:
(eye of the beholder and all)
This beholder cries Behold!
A butterfly blue flutters
to flowers through leaves
the bright green of creation.
Wing borders of sky-blue leap from
scalloped edges rimmed with white.
One forewing has a bird-beak tear,
an almost miss I admire.
Red-spotted Purple jinked just right.
The black head is relieved by
two white dots between the eyes,
echoed by white on forewing tips.
May they divert attack by avid beaks.
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