Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Monarch's Arrival


(Photo by jmadjedi / CC BY-NC 2.0)

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.         
         ~Rabindranath Tagor

The annual migration of monarch butterflies to Mexico is one of nature's most awe-inspiring spectacles.  After Matt Forrest Esenwine's beautiful haiku from earlier this week, I wanted to spend a little more time with these regal creatures.  For those of you who have never seen migration footage, here is a video taken at El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in 2011.



The video opens with a statement that 150 million monarchs came back in the 2010-2011 season despite a devastating cold storm that killed off millions.  Since then, the monarch population has faced much worse threats, causing their numbers to plunge in 2013 to the lowest level in at least 20 years.  This is according to an article in the New York Times from March of last year.  The article goes on to say that while the monarchs' plight is not yet at a crisis point, there are things we can and must do with regard to replenishing milkweed and changing some farming practices.  Once again, humans are pushing the limits of what our planet can sustain.

And on that note, I'd like to leave you with this poem by Joan Murray:

Chrysalis

  by Joan Murray
1

It's mid-September, and in the Magic Wing Butterfly Conservancy
in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the woman at the register
is ringing up the items of a small girl and her mother.
There are pencils and postcards and a paperweight--
all with butterflies--and, chilly but alive,
three monarch caterpillars--in small white boxes
with cellophane tops, and holes punched in their sides.
The girl keeps rearranging them like a shell game
while the cashier chats with her mother: "They have to
feed on milkweed--you can buy it in the nursery outside."
"We've got a field behind our house," the mother answers.
The cashier smiles to show she didn't need the sale:
"And in no time, they'll be on their way to Brazil or Argentina--
or wherever they go--" ("to Mexico," says the girl,
though she's ignored) "and you can watch them
do their thing till they're ready to fly."
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16237#sthash.6Eqs0Y07.dpuf

Chrysalis

  by Joan Murray
1

It's mid-September, and in the Magic Wing Butterfly Conservancy
in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the woman at the register
is ringing up the items of a small girl and her mother.
There are pencils and postcards and a paperweight--
all with butterflies--and, chilly but alive,
three monarch caterpillars--in small white boxes
with cellophane tops, and holes punched in their sides.
The girl keeps rearranging them like a shell game
while the cashier chats with her mother: "They have to
feed on milkweed--you can buy it in the nursery outside."
"We've got a field behind our house," the mother answers.
The cashier smiles to show she didn't need the sale:
"And in no time, they'll be on their way to Brazil or Argentina--
or wherever they go--" ("to Mexico," says the girl,
though she's ignored) "and you can watch them
do their thing till they're ready to fly."
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16237#sthash.6Eqs0Y07.dpuf

Chrysalis

  by Joan Murray
1

It's mid-September, and in the Magic Wing Butterfly Conservancy
in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the woman at the register
is ringing up the items of a small girl and her mother.
There are pencils and postcards and a paperweight--
all with butterflies--and, chilly but alive,
three monarch caterpillars--in small white boxes
with cellophane tops, and holes punched in their sides.
The girl keeps rearranging them like a shell game
while the cashier chats with her mother: "They have to
feed on milkweed--you can buy it in the nursery outside."
"We've got a field behind our house," the mother answers.
The cashier smiles to show she didn't need the sale:
"And in no time, they'll be on their way to Brazil or Argentina--
or wherever they go--" ("to Mexico," says the girl,
though she's ignored) "and you can watch them
do their thing till they're ready to fly."
- See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/16237#sthash.6Eqs0Y07.dpuf
Chrysalis
by Joan Murray

1

It's mid-September
It's mid-September, and in the Magic Wing Butterfly Conservancy
in Deerfield, Massachusetts, the woman at the register
is ringing up the items of a small girl and her mother.
There are pencils and postcards and a paperweight--
all with butterflies--and, chilly but alive,
three monarch caterpillars--in small white boxes
with cellophane tops, and holes punched in their sides.
The girl keeps rearranging them like a shell game
while the cashier chats with her mother: "They have to
feed on milkweed--you can buy it in the nursery outside."
"We've got a field behind our house," the mother answers.
The cashier smiles to show she didn't need the sale:
"And in no time, they'll be on their way to Brazil or Argentina--
or wherever they go--" ("to Mexico," says the girl,
though she's ignored) "and you can watch them
do their thing till they're ready to fly."

You can read the rest here.


Next, why don't you migrate over to No Water River, where Renée LaTulippe is hosting today's Poetry Friday roundup and spreading her wings with an exciting new adventure of her own!

19 comments:

  1. Wow, Michelle. The last section of that poem took an unexpected turn. It's beautifully written. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree-- "wow" was my reaction too. After rolling along, it certainly does startle you into awareness there at the end.

      Delete
  2. Yes, didn't expect that last section. Beautifully crafted poem, moving from such innocence to such gravity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Surprising, yes, and most certainly thought-provoking!

      Delete
  3. Didn't see that coming in the third section, but a beautiful, thought-provoking poem. Here in upstate New York, we rescue monarch caterpillars every year from roadside mowing. We planted a milkweed patch for them behind our house. But this year, there were none to rescue. None (not one!) could be found on our dusty little dirt road out in the middle of nowhere. Their numbers were too low to make the migration. It truly is a sad predicament for the monarch, and for people like us, who see the monarch as a bit of magic representing childhood wonder.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fingers crossed that there will be more childhood wonder for you to rescue this year!

      Delete
  4. Sticking with the first part of the poem...the last stanza was too heavy...
    My class used to do a Monarch butterfly project with Mexico. You can find information about the Journey North program here:
    http://www.learner.org/jnorth/monarch/spring2014/update020614.html
    It starts in the fall and picks up again in the spring. Lots of good information on their site about the overwintering and the numbers of monarchs spotted. Classes can send in sightings reports. The numbers are dwindling, but there are things that can be done.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So I decided late that I DID have time to post for Friday - putting up my Monarch poem. Thanks for getting me started!

      Delete
    2. What a cool classroom project! I'm going over to check out your poem now. Glad to be of service. :)

      Delete
  5. Yeah. That last stanza. Whoa.

    Read Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior for a novel look at the monarch's migration woes.

    We had a few monarch caterpillars in our school land lab last summer, but never saw a chrysalis. We'll plant more (or pull less) milkweed this year.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I second Mary Lee's suggestion. Barbara Kingsolver is a marvelous writer, her work, even if the subject if depressing, is a joy to read!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree, she is a marvelous writer. Looking forward to this one!

      Delete
  7. What an interesting poem, Michelle. I felt like a fish, reeled in on the bait of butterfly info and memories, then scooped into the net and bashed on the head. What you can't do with poetry when you pull out all the stops with comparison and metaphor!

    Violet N.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Geez, I feel like maybe I should apologize... or not... ? This poem certainly does wield a hefty hammer.

      Delete
  8. Wow! Thank you for sharing this poem, Michelle. Amazing. =)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Note to self: plant more milkweed. :-) You shocked us all with this one, Michelle! That's good to do, now and again. Makes me want to go hug someone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hugging someone is always a good idea in my book. :)

      Delete