Monarch Summer, the poem

By Ray Parsons, 1995

Not much summer where we live, in coastal mist.
It tries; but the harder the sun shines,
the thicker the grey billows.
Green tomatoes, sour grapes and more fancy lettuce
than you really want.
Good for Redwood, in the day.

Not until late September, and Monarch Summer
is this much like California.
Then, with the return of the great travelers,
the fog fails and the heat holds for a while.
Now the window ACs, rusting on their props
grind all day against the baking sun;
Windsor and Rohnert Park, Penngrove and Cotati.

Time now to walk the right of way,
snaking between scented field and storage yard;
retail mall to the Palace of Fruit.
Childrens' toys, scattered across the valley,
so soon broken and unloved...
About all this--the Monarch doesn't seem to mind.

So I stutter walk the uneven ties; head bowed,
smelling creosote, crunching gravel,
look up now and then.
Dried summer growth, flotsam, sweet anise.
I look to find the milkweed.
The Monarch is looking, too.

Tropical herb, moving north over ages past,
veins full of emetic sap;
mothers' milk to the great insects.
Eschew all else and fly boldly among
the feathered assassins;
stroking gorgeous wings with arrogant joy:
We were here first-- do your worst!

Every year the earth tilts,
weed and butterfly make this odyssey.
Dusty Mexico to sodden Canada,
until the equinox turns.
The very breath of the warm south,
lords amongst their drab and feckless cousins:
Satyr and Question Mark.
Ringlet and Sister,
Buckeye and Frittiliary.

Until their swarms ebb away from
the gathering frost,
and the milkweed wilts into the cold ground.
Away to cool groves to bide their time
and brighten many a warm day with their rustling.
Sleepy fluttering in the milky sunshine;
dreams of spring in Bolinas.

How to find Carmel on a butterflies' wings
is the part I don't see.
Birds do this kind of thing---
it's a wonder too--
but they have brains like mine,
many keen senses,
and manic energy.
Must be led by some swift God;
Hermes' golden sandals flashing in their flock.

So walk with me on the tracks this year,
my paradise of trash and weeds.
Rest by that dusky Oak,
Mop your brow;
you've had your fill of October heat...
Still now...
feel the good earths' mighty pulse
in the slow beat of tattered wings
touching down... here and there
leaving their golden eggs.

Posted by icosahedron icosahedron, August 27, 2011 04:56


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