You’ve seen this poem before. THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS was published in 1998 by Boyds Mills Press in. It is the story of a butterfly collector with a problem. It was based on me and the butterfly I wanted was a blue hair streak.
Yesterday I watered the plants outdoors and got my sandals wet. When I sat down to rest, this blue hair streak landed on a sandal to get a little bit of moisture on a hot afternoon. It brought back memories of that day when I was 12 and standing in a pasture before a smelly cow pie, net over my shoulder, horn rim glasses sliding down my sweaty nose, wondering how to swoop up the jewels.
Cow Pie Jewels
in the middle of the path
a cow patty
bigger than a dinner plate
with blowfly raisins
Melting in the sun
How can your charm
these dainty jewels
in sky-blue tights
to dance around
such disgusting pastry?
My net at the ready
to swoop up the jewels
And leave the pie.
(c) 1998 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
I haven’t shown you lately our hydrangea wall outside the office window. It might not look like it but I’m on the other side of that glorious plant.
Here’s my view of that welcoming green jungle. Occasionally, birds explore in the leaves and present me with a closeup of their curiosity. During mating season, male cardinals and robins sometimes do battle with their reflections in the window glass. Some battles last off and on for days. Here’s a poem I wrote about one such epic.
March 27, 2012
For the last four days a young robin has been flailing away at my office window. He shows up at 8:00 a.m. sharp, prepared to joust with his image in the glass. It was as though he were reporting to work. I half expected to see him bring a lunch box with maybe a new spring worm sandwich and a sack of ants. He didn’t knock off for the night until 7:00 or so.
Once started, the robin flew against the window many times a minute, twenty times at least. I figured the number of self-attacks during the day at roughly 15,000. Don Quixote could have learned from this young fellow.
At noon on the fourth day, my combative little companion left the scene. I will probably spot him around the yard, trying to figure out how to live with a beak like a pretzel. I salute him.
Beak tracks across my windowpane,
Testimony to his youthful ardor
Who, determined if he battles harder,
Will win, but all his pecking is in vane.
Staring balefully in the morning sun,
He flogs the interloper to no avail.
It seems equally eager to assail,
At day’s end neither bird has won.
Day two, three, the battle is resumed,
Each combatant staring at the foe,
Feathers puffed, standing toe to toe.
Determined that the challenger is doomed,
He hurls himself again against the glass,
Falls back, blinks, puzzled, dazed,
His enemy mocks, blinks, just as crazed,
Flies at once to block where he would pass.
By day four he fights with waning might,
Vents from either end his weary wrath,
He needs food, rest, he needs a bath.
The battlefield he leaves is painted white.
(c) 2017 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved
You know how I like to watch and report on the small members of the Goose Lake community. Recently I watched an ant puffing along under the weight of a moth wing it was somehow managing to carry. Had to imagine what that miniature brain might be thinking. The first line of the poem it inspired wanted to be iambic pentameter: da DA da DA da DA da DA da DA. Perhaps the longer line supported the herculean labors of that tiny beast. At that point it could have gone to blank verse. Instead, this one veered off into rhyme: ababa. I don’t know why, but I liked the result, which is fun to read aloud.
The King of Ants
I wonder what you’re thinking, little ant.
That wing of moth makes quite a load for you.
You get it caught on every passing plant,
but giving up I know you’ll never do.
I never met an ant that said it can’t.
I wonder what you’re thinking, little bug,
that wing of moth will make a tasty meal?
Never mind that it’s a lot to lug –
wing of fly would seem far more ideal –
yet on and on your carry, push, and tug.
I wonder if you’re thinking as you cling
so stubbornly to what you have in tow,
that all your friends will love this juicy wing?
Are you dreaming as you labor so,
tonight’s the night they’ll treat you like a king?
(c) 2022 David L. Harrison, all rights reserved