Friday, June 21, 2013

Air Defense

Saint Francis’ Satyr—
so rare its cocoa-powder wings
flutter only across a few wet meadows
on a single military base, where fire bombs
lobbed into canebrake make a scuttle of  flames,
open patches of sun where the sedges grow
and the Satyr, guarded only by eyespots,
lays one by one her tiny eggs
the color of new grass.

The meadow over the way
turned white with daisies the summer I was six,
and we wandered for weeks, the dog and I,
linked by garlands and lost
in an ocean of white.  

A man with a camera came,
and then a full-page photograph
in Time magazine—the daisies, the laughing dog,
and me—important reasons for effective air  defense
in black and white. The year was 1956 but the war
was the one war always being fought
somewhere beyond the edge
of the field of daisies.

Yet somewhere
among the leaves of grass
perhaps a chrysalis—

Bolts of Silk  6/9/2013

The endangered St. Francis' Satyr  (Neonymphia mitchelii francisci) occurs only on Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina, the state where I live. The exact locations of its tiny, fragmented breeding sites are kept confidential to protect the butterfly from collectors.  The photograph shows another Satyr Butterfly, the Creole Pearly Eye (Enodia creola).


  1. what a wonderful and also informative poem full of surprises.

    and what an interesting experience. do you have a copy of the magazine?

    1. Thanks, Janet! Yes, I have a copy of the Time magazine as well as a set of the original photos.