Flamingo-beaked buds open on bare branches.
Pollen-drunk, the long-tongued bees
mount bright blossoms.
petals burst pink against a blue sky.
Only after the gaudy show—
tender leaves, red-rimmed, unfold,
grow into a heart.
Monarch Butterflies on Joe-Pye Weed
You cling to these late summer blossoms,
uncurl fine filaments, kneading, needing
sweet nectar for your flight. Hinged wings open
and close like ancient Chinese kites,
silk dyed tiger-bright, trimmed with black-ink
calligraphic designs. You feed and flutter,
then lift, tilt in the air, set sail – fragile prayers
flying to the gods. Safe journey.