A little bee finds nectar heaven
on the prairie clover blossoms.
As she spirals the flower she plucks
each golden anther from its pale
stem and tucks the pollen onto her
hind legs, leaving each amethyst
floret trembling and bereft.
The bee’s lean black eye notes
all the gold that’s left. She will carry
all she can and in her nest, build
a pollen dome and lay one egg on top.
Without her dancing golden pollen,
prairie clover will still adorn herself
with butterflies that sense nectar
at each floret’s center root.
Little boys would show their sisters to get an “Ewww”
before they poked it and it flew.
English Victorians were embarrassed,
Ladies were obliged to blush and look away.
In company, none dared comment.
Down in the pub it was always good for a laugh.
Ten million years ago a baby baboon reached for it.
Mother slapped its hand away.
No child of Earth had ever been embarrassed.
Today’s bird-drop moth just goes on, keeping
safe from beaks and jaws, secure in its perfection.
Black-necked stilts hang out in a salt-marsh.
One bends his knee backwards to scratch his neck.
He works at it with vigor for some time, shakes
his foot before cooling it in the marsh. I expect
that every creature with a neck needs to scratch it.
We have old Itch & Scratch in common with all
animals big enough for bitty beings to torment.
I hope talking about this hasn’t made you itch
somewhere. If so, I do hope it’s scratchable.
Kinship with the cousins (and each other) is the key.
Sulphur butterflies dip for minerals in wet sand
dwarfed by a truck tire’s tread in relief.
Light beats through the wings of three males,
points up their black wing borders.
The lone female lifts her torso, stands tall.
Her wings reflect light, opaque.
How many things are going on here?
Many mouths seek nectar
when the milkweed blooms.
In this strong sun leaves glow
veins and edges, even single cells.
A black ant works a flower cluster
still opening, heavy with the gift.
How perfumed this milkweed
atmosphere. Noses reel
in this sweet and summer heat
until the sweet finds its bitter
and we humans seek relief.
Nature composes well
her summer musics for the eye,
how she curves the fleabane stem
over red oak bark to play
bright daisy triplets
against oak textured dark,
how she splashes her sharp greens
to lilt us where and when.
On a sleepy morning
a lily opens wide to offer pollen
to flower flies and bees.
The striped spider spins a web
to capture fliers so enticed.
On a curving petal right
a thin mosquito rests.
May it find in spider’s web
its terminal repose.
A little green bee
attends the unfolding
of the petals of a yellow
In an hour the petals will
all seem much the same,
sap pushed up the stem
unfolds the petals all,
All are creased upon the fold
but look how different now.
One unfolds to be a little spout.
Some embrace the light
some seek shade behind a sib.
One is first to host the claws
of a small metallic bee
that may wait until
nectar is pooling free
or maybe finds its petal top
a natural place to fold and sleep.
The Giant Swallowtail beats up a spectrum
and doesn’t stop, feeds on the wing.
Now her long tongue probes nectar deep
in marsh milkweed flowers even as they open,
even as the nectar pools again, renewed.
Her body is a yellow velvet gondola slung
from wings alive with rows of yellow climbing
black and merging at the forewing top.
To ride below such wings, in summer sun!
The mountains of Baja California
are vertical deserts, cardon cactus
stretching up from solid rock thanks to
its mineral-eating microbe symbiote.
Tough green scrub climbs
eroded remnants of volcanic plugs,
green upright against gravity,
against the old volcano’s root.
Shadow lines here are sharp
in the dry clarity of desert air.
The third dimension of this landscape
is a shifting shade of blue,
the palette of mountain distance
beneath the eye of unabated sun.
A tiny white-faced meadowhawk
perches on a hollow horsetail stem,
exquisite as the peak of ivory netsuke,
elephant or mammoth tusk.
Tell me, is it more perfect that
this hawk can fly off to clasp a tiny prey,
or that if carved it could be always held?
The question seems to be political.
Sunlight plays an elusive game
with new widow skimmer wings.
Up from the ponds and released
to harden for flight, these wings
gleam somehow like oiled leather
in the camera’s eye, almost
outshining the abdomen’s gold.
Light is the great mystery
and genesis of delight.
Yarrow flowers are white and innocent
each flower head its own pretty nosegay,
but not quite today,
For this day
a tiny bee collects yellow yarrow pollen
and does not see the off-white flower spider
waiting to spring its four-armed ambush claws.
That little bee is so cute and roly-poly
compared to lean and hungry spider.
Would it help if the spider’s white were not off
so we wouldn’t it see it either?
Shall we take sides?
Shall we flick a finger at the yellow yarrow pollen
and scare both parties off?
Fledgling songbirds everywhere!
Here a rose-breasted grossbeak
just three weeks from the shell
shows off its golden hue,
its pink tinged seed-crack beak,
white eyebrows that look painted on.
This bird so strongly present
was a naked gape a few days ago,
that dark bright eye was tremulous
and closed behind a skin veil
but opened quickly to white
parent beaks with wriggling bugs
to grow this golden child into this glow.
Wind has its way with tall coneflowers,
yellow flags rippling prairie acres,
for everywhere they lift above the rest.
Light plays through these petals
that with wind stream a tallgrass dance
that has here delighted human eyes
since last the glaciers carved this land.
A fat and sassy grassfrog
waits among birdsfoot trefoil
for the danger I am to leave.
Beneath dappled light her spots
and lines play camouflage.
Had she not leaped I would not see, but
her eye-gleam keeps able track of me.
May grasshoppers sprawl upon her tongue.
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