Mourning Cloak

underside

A mourning cloak on a cool morning
on a walk through the cemetery.
It is quiet but for whispered prayers.

She touches a headstone in the sun.
Her yellow skirt escaping the dark cloak.

top view

Nymphalis antiopa, the mourning cloak, is a large butterfly native to Eurasia and North America. The immature form of this species is sometimes known as the spiny elm caterpillar which has a toxic substance in its hairs or spines that can cause a very painful reaction if you touch it,

These butterflies have a lifespan of 11 to 12 months, one of the longest lifespans for any butterfly.

Force Majeure

votive

  Image: Anemone123

I bought fifty votive candles for him.
When only one remained, his forty-nine days
in the bardo had ended. I invoked
my force majeure clause and burned that
contract that had entrapped my entire life.

Ash Wednesday

I hope to turn again one day –
turn from dark death thoughts to life,
to rise from the fire into lightness,
floating like the ashes that rise above
the flames and escape to the sky.

I hope to return to this time
lent us, because I hope the garden
will return from under snow, because hope
is dusted upon the slender one standing
in the distance, haloed by the sun.

 

palms to ash

This double Ronka poem owes something to T.S. Eliot’s poem, “Ash-Wednesday”, which begins:

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn

listen to T.S. Eliot reading the poem