William Michaelian

Poems, Notes, and Drawings

That Which Survives

Dragonfly season here is a show of grace; color; delicacy. The insects rise and pause and land with an ethereal weightlessness we don’t associate with the much larger dragonflies of our youth in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where they stood on air and rumbled about in our classrooms at school, entering and leaving freely through the open doors and unscreened windows. During the warm months, which seemed to last most of the year, the temperature inside was very nearly the same as the temperature outside. It wasn’t uncommon for dogs to wander in from neighboring farms, wagging their tails and grateful for a little understanding company. I’ve written about this many times over the years, so dear is the memory. There was no thought or need of security, no fear beyond what might be cooking in the cafeteria.

Now, in yard and garden, we see them blue, we see them red, we see them green, we see them in between. They love to rest and sun themselves on plant stakes and tomato cages. It’s possible to stand quite close to them, tho’ a sudden move will usually scare them off. But not always. Slender, fragile, transparent, some of them look almost like living jewels. I don’t know what we might look like to them. Maybe an expert could tell me; if so, I still wouldn’t know. Momentarily informed, I could only try to imagine myself a dragonfly, before I returned to the state of blissful ignorance that remains my constant guide.

In high school biology, I memorized all of the orders of insects. Now I know only a few: lepidoptera, orthoptera, diptera, hymenoptera — these off hand; maybe others would surface given a chance; but the eggs having been laid so long ago in my head, it’s amazing any were able to survive the unstable conditions.


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Categories: A Few More Scratches

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5 replies

  1. Since I have been living in the mountains, nature has seemed to me so vigorous and so wild. Flowers, incredible insects that I didn’t know, trees, herbs: everything is powerful. Nature obeys another law. She does not deceive us.
    Even more: she talks to us all the time. nature approaches us and confides.
    Thank you so much William for writing this.

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  2. They actually land on our arms and shoulders when we wade in the river here, in Quebec. They skim along the water’s surface and seem to find our bodies to be convenient stable resting spots to gather in some sun. The smaller thinner “diamond needles” too.

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