Summer of the Ladybirds
Can we learn wisdom watching insects now,
or just the art of quiet observation?
Creatures from the world of leaf and flower
marking weather's variation.
That huge dry summer of the ladybirds
(we thought we'd never feel such heat again)
started with white cabbage butterflies
sipping at thin trickles in the drain.
Then one by one the ladybirds appeared
obeying some far purpose or design.
We marvelled at their numbers in the garden,
grouped together, shuffling in a line.
Each day a few strays turned up at the table,
the children laughed to see them near the jam
exploring round the edges of a spoon.
One tried to drink the moisture on my arm.
How random and how frail seemed their lives,
and yet how they persisted, refugees,
saving energy by keeping still
and hiding in the grass and in the trees.
And then one day they vanished overnight.
Clouds gathered, storm exploded, weather cleared.
And all the wishes that we might have had
in such abundance simply disappeared.
from The Other Side Of Things (River Road Press, 2008), © Vivian Smith 2008, used by permission of the author and River Road Press