DRAGONFLY AFTERNOON

Sluggish afternoon,

mud-puddle air languishes

          against hot skin.

I sit near the canal -

          bored with the day

          (remembering that boredom

          is hostility without enthusiasm).

If I am hostile,

          it is not towards the limp-veined

          leaves of the poplar,

          nor the withered brown grasses,

          nor even the motionless slate of water.

If anything,

          I am angry at my skin

          that seems too small to contain

          my whole emotional body, this day

                   where thoughts drift

                   like milkweed fluff

                             on lazy air.

 

I travel to another sweltering

          summer afternoon,

          far away, years ago...

I wait pond-side for my lover to find me,

          watching reflected

          mounds of cumulous cloud

          whitewash the still surface of the water.

A slight movement in the cat-tails

          draws my attention,

          a spiny brown insect

          slowly pulls itself up the side of a leaf.

In the cusp of the spreading frond,

          it pauses, pulsing hypnotically.

Fat, sultry minutes pass,

          a tiny split down the body, near the back, shyly forms.

          Gradually, new blue thorax, thin legs, bulging green

eye sockets emerge.

The abdomen stiffens,

          wings pant in the hot air, shivering

          veins fill them with blood.

I am mesmerized.

          I do not even hear her approach -

          fresh water kisses

          on the back of my neck,

          butterfly hands

          drift down my chest

          rest against my belly.

We watch as the dragonfly,

          fully dry, wings extended,

          takes off.

Again and again it returns,

          drawn as if by magnet

          to it's cat-tail perch.

One time it lands,

          tiny fluttering scales

          of moth wing splinter

          - first meal leftovers.

 

Engorged,

          we lay back,

encased by our desire.

Maybe the grass remembers our caresses,

          I only remember wishing

          some shell-like

          sheathing on my soul

          might split at that very moment

          we melted into one another.

But there was only the sweat drying

          on our bodies,

          distance restored,

          and the silent hovering of a blue-bodied dragonfly.

 

Today, craving metamorphosis,

          the sweet first breath of new form -

only the slowly widening split of pond-side memory

          attends this moment of transformation.

I only want to surprise myself -

          not with what I know to be within me and

          can not quite release,

          but with the tender underbelly

          of my own unpredictability,

as if, nymph-like,

          my soul could not yet imagine

          the flight of the dragonfly.

 

R.S. Russell