Friday, July 28, 2017

Black Swallowtail Haiku

the caterpillars
disguise mystery

©Mary Lee Hahn

I still haven't seen a single adult black swallowtail anywhere, all summer long. They have found my dill and parsley, however. Caterpillars have appeared and disappeared several times. A couple of weeks ago, they were all over the dill in various stages of growth. I brought in six, excited about watching the ten (TEN!!) I left outside grow up. When I went outside later that afternoon, all ten were gone from the dill, nowhere to be found. Food chain, I assume. I am glad I saved six.

Of the six, three have successfully chrysalized (is that a word?) and two are close -- still eating, but nearing the full-to-popping size they achieve before they reorganize all their body parts so they can fly. The mystery of the changes from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly never gets old.

Caterpillar on dill, top left. Two chrysalises on bottom stick.

Two unrecognizable caterpillars -- top one is greenish, bottom one is brown.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Timing is Everything

Lake Michigan, Indiana Dunes State Park

timing is everything

how we measure the seconds between
     toast and charcoal
     insult and injury
     impact and airbag
hands up, palms forward--stop!

how we measure the seconds between
     boom and sparkle
     joke and punchline
     notice and wonder
hands out, palms cupped--more!

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

I took the title of my poem from today's poem at The Writer's Almanac. Gerald Locklin uses the timing of one event for his poem, but I got to thinking about the range of emotions possible within brief moments. What are some moments you'd like to have stopped or to held onto?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dear, Sincerely

Flickr Creative Commons Photo by Faruk Ateş

Dear Mac and Cheese,

I’ve got to hand it to you,
you perfected the whole dissemblance thing.
I mean, it was flat-out brilliant
disguising yourself in that box for all these years,
allowing generations of beginning (or lazy) cooks
to transform dust and rocks
into a creamy bowl of comfort.
Box-made, your color is, though, disturbingly unnatural.
Not quite the orange of the namesake fruit
nor of a winter sky at sunset.
Neither oriole nor monarch.
Not autumn or amber.
Perhaps closest to road gang prison uniform,
a subtle hint to alert the most observant cooks that
the box is actually a trap.
Half a lifetime of cooking wasted, spent colorblind and imprisoned,
I’m free now, and so are you.
I’ve grated a big mound of cheddar and American,
mixed in noodles, poured on cream, baked until crunchy on top.
We’ve escaped, and nothing can stop us from moving on
to smoked gouda, bacon, fresh peas, and a crisp panko topping.
Your palette is now my palate.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

Sincerely, Mac and Cheese

I know I cannot erase the facts:
they will grow up motherless;
he will be achingly lonely.

Stir into me the courage of a wooden spoon,
bake me with a searing love,
deliver me to be eaten one spoonful at a time,

the same way a vast grief must be consumed.
This is all you can do.
This is all I can do.

©Mary Lee Hahn, 2017

My mentor text for these two poems was David Hernandez's book, Dear, Sincerely. His poem, "Sincerely, the Sky" was featured recently on The Writer's Almanac. I loved it so much that in a rare move, I clicked through to his book on Amazon. After a peek inside the book, I knew I wanted to own it.

There are 10 Dear or Sincerely poems in the book. I took the conversational tone of my first poem from Hernandez's "Dear Death." My sincerely poem is most like his "Sincerely, Paper Gown."