Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

 

Celithemis eponina.

 

This handcrafted odonate

Circulating in a meadow’s

Summer skies,

 

Gliding in the tender blue

Like the remote-controlled miniature drone

That it likely is;

 

And when it alights

On the tip of a mullein,

 

This inch-or-two skimmer

Is art for art-in-the-meadow’s sake:

 

The ebony hatpin

Of the slender thorax,

 

The strawberry flight goggles,

 

The winning cluster

Of tiny wiry legs,

 

And the quartet of wings

Tinted burnt orange

And handsomely banded in brown—

 

Hence the not especially wary

“Halloween pennant.”

 

You may be tempted to search

For a proud autograph

Along the edge of a wing,

 

For an outrageous price tag

Dangling among the legs—

 

For the URL

Of the artist’s website:

 

For surely here is proof

Of an Intelligent Designer,

 

With a jeweler’s toolbox,

 

A miniaturist’s paintbrushes,

 

A watchmaker’s stash

Of tiny golden gears,

 

And not one scintilla of conscience.

 

*

 

Look: every mullein in sight

Is a heliport topped by a pennant.

 

See how their settled wings flex in the breeze

Like no other dragonfly’s?

 

You can imagine them resisting

A singular pull from above,

 

As if the Maker

Wants His boyhood mementos

Back in His heirloom toy box—

 

His collectibles

That had soared away

To join the flying circus—

 

But with tiny wills

Acquired of their own

They want to stay down here

And play a little longer,

 

Play in the vale of tears.

 

I would love to tell you

They feed on nectar

And spread the gospel of pollen.

 

But they thrive on nectar-seekers,

Snatched from midair

And methodically devoured alive.

 

They also charm

The birds from the trees.

 

As the Maker has surely warned them,

It’s a dangerous place for play.

 

*

 

Early autumn,

 

And the meadow where Midas had waded

Is gilded in goldenrod.

 

The tinnitus of the ground crickets

Is summer’s retreating echo.

 

In the cool evening twilights,

The last orbiting darners

Are the last American helicopters

Preparing to flee Saigon.

 

And the ranks of mullein

Stand charred and deserted.

 

The Halloween pennants:

Wreckage in the meadow grass.

 

Yes, those priceless pennants!

 

Those art-and-crafts collectibles!

 

Those biplanes of a bygone era!

 

 Tossed away

Like so much gimcrack from China.

 

Thrown away with more on the way—

 

But no one can accuse the Creator

Of not recycling.

 

Maybe His indifference is redeemed

By being so perfect.

 

Still, we can imagine

A thundering ultimatum,

 

And the unresisting pennants

Levitating as one,

 

Shrinking away

In the chill blue Empyrean,

 

To be carefully arranged

In a walnut showcase

Restored for their homecoming—

 

A prodigal's homecoming

 

For these ravenous masterworks

 From the heavens—

 

The fallen heavens

 

Of a fallen world.

 

 

¨