Done with the nest, the great egret wears
long nuptial plumes still.
She’s come to the pond I haunt
to find minnows just for
her own long throat.
A wise choice the white lady makes,
to fly when I move. No minnow is worth
the risk of my kind, and just as well.
Were I to see her often, I might die
of forgetting the breath
caught in my throat.
The boreal bluet damselfly mates
in the shape we call heart.
They neither know nor care
that my eyes find them here,
making this heart of summer.
Three seasons submersed,
these weeks emergent in bright
when blue invents neon
and the shape we call heart,
as they have almost forever
whirling Earth around sun.
Bluets gave blues to the sky, and some few watching eyes,
a hundred million years before Earth’s first flower.
Wild bergamot dances with a wild bee
who licks nectar. Tall hollow petals
splash out in a crown like a stop-action
spill of lavender milk.
Bee rounds the splatter turned flower,
dips her long feather-tipped tongue
down tube after tube as each partner
she grasps and lets go with a bow
and a bob as she whirls out on wings
to seek a fresh dancer with nectar as sweet.
See a jay drop a feather,
watch it waft that way and this
on currents made strange.
See it swoop to the surface of pond
to end in the duckweed
Watch the feather
Brown-eyed Susan has opened herself
to a hungry inchworm that requires
the protein in her pollen.
The inchworm gathers gold
until I jog its picnic flower
and it becomes a startled twig
growing from a yellow petal.
Pretty Susan will not set seed,
but a tiny moth will seek its mate
through leafy galleries of night
where they will lay their seeds
upon the leaves of a star-crossed
Sunlight glows the fine wings of
the Aphrodite fritillary
as if, in a Botticelli dream,
she has just birthed from the sea.
Her wings carry scallops inked
on wings the hue of honey
held against a window glass.
Her face is simple, elegant economy,
crowned in balanced antennae,
twin thousand-facet eyes,
centered by a spiral tube of tongue
uncoiled to probe wild bergamot
deep as its nectar pools.
The climax has begun, a host of fires
to enchant the bees and flower flies.
With sun-fire Evening Primrose
ignites her candelabra.
She’s burned yellow candles
all the way up her spike.
Guttered wicks dry and drop.
Eve Primrose burns her candles at the top,
and they shall last the light.
The disk flowers of the wild sunflower
gape wide as if mouths of nestlings
that bear curving beaks of tiny petals in a star.
But these mouths do not demand, they give.
A green metallic bee responds with its tongue,
nectar quickly transferred to its stomach while
pollen transfers to the stigmas of the mouths.
The pretty bee fails to see the petal-yellow spider
waiting for a transfer of less cordial kind.
The bee may become spider, surely as a spider
popped into a nestling’s mouth becomes bird.
There is need, there is eating, there is death,
there is mutuality. All in the circle depend on
this offerings of flower mouths,
and all will give their substance to the flowers.
So these starry flowers exclaim “O” and “O” and “O.”
Katydid hardly needs to hide among the leaves,
for she, in flawless mimicry, is perfect leaf herself,
jagged here, veined there, and where not green
that tinge of brown that spots leaf injury.
Even Katy’s eyes are emeralds cut cabochon.
Only the sharp elbows of her legs suggest
to sparrow beak or garter snake
that she is anything but verdure growing here,
and so she hides and eats her greens, until it’s time
to find a tree and climb to live her next life high.
Earth is born again in flesh and feathers
as cardinals leave the nest with big eyes,
instant sunflower-shelling skills,
and so much infant charm I am lost.
Such attention their eyes bring to life—
and to mine. I must respond in kind.
A kingbird cranes its neck
to see the full-fledged child
that calls from the next tree
in hopes its parent will relent
and bring a juicy fly to the waiting beak,
as it always has.
The parent kingbird attends,
or would not look,
would not be near,
but knows that each must
catch its own flies now,
for seven weeks beyond the nest
is enough, and time now
for parents and brood to fatten
for the flight to the Amazon.
A kestrel fresh from nest and utter care
lands with drama on a parent’s refuge branch.
The parent falcon will not turn and look,
although it surely knows what’s happening.
Neither kestrel knows that they are beautiful,
nor could they care, for they are innocent
of knowledge of the Tree, but not of knowing how to be
in this primal Earth of innocence we left long ago.
Yet we still share, as parents will,
the problem: how to cut the strings.
The parent flees to the tree, the lovely
hungry fledgling follows instantly.
With this winged child, leaving does not work.
The parent tries again to ignore
the stare of falcon eyes,
and no doubt pathetic cries,
but begins to know that mate or self
will have to drive this child away.
I see daddy long legs on ground and walls,
but not before in goldenrod.
I think he is no pollen eater, but seeks
to harvest flea beetles that rush to goldenrod
as it wafts its scent from roadside and from field.
He is so large and they so small, they may
not see a threat until pedipalps scissor from above
and grab up the beetle before its wings can open.
A sedge wren points out
that I stand where I must not be,
for this is sedge wren’s place,
and nest space is not free.
He does not sing, he chatter scolds,
double-voiced, one loud, with breaks,
one beak-closed chitter so sustained
I took it for an insect rasp.
He bobs down, up, bounces
on his birchbark edge, noisy,
tough, and clear that I must leave.
In head-shake admiration I concur.
There is a grace one can see
but seldom say.
A sense of repose, one could claim,
but that’s not it.
The egret is attuned to water’s every ripple,
and his spear is quick
to pierce the minnow or the frog,
but is grace poise?
The egret spears and eats and swallows long,
then returns to a serenity
against the darkness of the pool
that partakes of Moon at night, beyond us
and still above us all.
When nights grow chill, find a flower and snug in.
Once upon a time, small fairy mothers
said this to their even smaller children,
our mothers told. I am charmed to find
after I am gray that Mom said true.
They wear golden fur, these flying fairies,
feed on nectar and gather pollen for their young.
At dusk they tunnel down in wild morning glory
(in chill breeze a windbreak sunflower may suffice)
In the blossom bees sleep stunned, and after sunup,
without rising, breakfast in bed on nectar.
When a white cloud filters sun,
the water lily no longer blinds
the way purity will. Now each
petal is itself, spiraling round
a whorl of gold stamens in turn
circling a hidden ring of carpels,
low and arched as if demure,
surrounded as they are by pure
white petals cradled in dark water.
Thistle seeds are bright white and ripe.
A goldfinch perches on a seedhead--
pulls a seed free, nips to free the silk,
swallows, pulls and nips, and on.
A trail of silken parachutes
cascades up the breeze, agleam,
awhirl without passengers.
The goldfinch flies upwind.
He lands almost lost to eyes among
swaying golden flowers, tall and branched
He flutter-hops from bloom to bloom.
Sunflower seeds have not yet formed.
Wild sunflower disks now hold black flea beetles.
They are there for him, Papa Goldfinch knows,
and for his wide-mouthed nestlings near.
Goldfinches are 99% vegan, but do eat aphids and other tiny bugs, perhaps for protein for their nestlings. They synch August nesting with the ripening of grass and thistle seeds.
The indigo bunting has it all,
shades of blue from azure to cerulean,
beak of ivory and obsidian, a dash
of wing and tail tip black,
But in winter, among jungle flowers,
he wears a plain brown wrapper,
under which he plans another spring,
when his new set of magic blues
will reveal again his need
to charm again a bunting girl.
There it bubbles, here it dazzles,
here it churns, and just there flows
around a black wet stone
where moss green it grows.
Next to crinkled turmoil
the river lulls, not quite still,
to show concentric ripples
of a slow half-circle shape,
a brief break from the race.
Today, once sun reaches down,
a thistle flower is abuzz
with bumblebees and busy beetles.
Each floret tube filled high with nectar,
each floret tipped with sticky pollen
food for a large hatch of flower beetles
black against magenta. One beetle
stands out from the black,
has climbed to the very tube tip
to eat white pollen clustered there.
She is a pale translucent green
whose six legs shine. Between
long antennae, black button eyes
charm her into life beyond beetle,
the way my young eyes placed
enchanted overlays on toys
to see them come awake, aware.
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