Walk with a Mayfly

I’ve been trying to write a sonnet about the mayfly. You’d think it would be easy, mayflies being tiny things, not even a whole haiku let alone 14 lines, but it turns out this isn’t an easy poem to write. That or the remains of Covid brain (which gave me an uncanny ability to solve Wordles) is hindering my progress.

I was walking with one the other day, the situation of a friend filling my mind, questions about life and death and fear and illness all that stuff. I needed the walk and the day was good for walking and thinking. As Bear, Teddy and I were returning to the car, a mayfly hitched a ride on my shirt. They often do that and I like it. I like them. They are so small, barely even visible, white and gray and transparent with googly red-brown eyes that appear to be able to see in nearly 360 degrees. Invariably they are looking at me.

I thought, too, about everything I’ve seen and learned out there since 2020 when I started walking there regularly. I went because I needed to get to a place where dogs would be under human control because my places — wildlife areas along the river — were — thanks to Covid — suddenly overrun (ha ha) with dogs. People staying home, taking out their dogs, turning them loose. I guess it was a problem for more than just me — Colorado Parks and Wildlife has made them fee areas. A person needs a license to go out there. I love that. I’m licensed, but I seldom go out there.

The Refuge was, at first, a place I went with friends just to see cranes. They were a kind of “gateway drug” to a world I didn’t know anything about. It’s been an amazing school, these two and a half years. I admit to getting a little bored with the flat gravel road on which we walk, but that’s a problem with me, not the road and not the place. During our walk Wednesday, a flock of geese flew over. I stopped to watch them and Bear leaned against me. I realized that I was doing a seasonal thing, watching large groups of birds in flight, and Bear understood I was happy.

Without the cranes I wouldn’t have met the mayfly. Every little being is a lantern in the wilderness.

That was when we turned around to go home and the mayfly joined us. And, thanks to the mayfly, my troubled mind and heart got a kind of resolution. But the poem? Not there yet…

Walk with a Mayfly
Martha Kennedy

Mayfly riding on my shirt, frail beauty
against early autumn’s gray and clouded light
With her big red eyes, she looks up at me.
What does she see? Here, in her life’s one flight,
She rests in her fleeting, urgent frenzy,
Carried on the soft breeze of a fall day, 
She shares her short airborne time with me.
I’m humbled, awed. “Little Mayfly,” I say
“You honor me. Your mayfly flight is just three
days, and you ride on my shirt,” but she stayed,
Transparent upright wings, still watching me.
I can never know what she would have said, 
If she could. Maybe (and these words are true),
“Three days for me is a lifetime for you.”

10 thoughts on “Walk with a Mayfly

  1. I guess mayflies are different in your neck of the woods. Around here, a mayfly hatching may be dense enough that they show up on weather radar, looking like rain. They cause car crashes by making the pavement slippery. Sometimes they have to use snowplows to clear them from the roads.

  2. I’m glad you had a pleasant encounter with the mayfly. I’ve tried walking through a swarm and it is horrific for the bug phobic! Fortunately I had on a hat and all my hair was covered. Ended up noping out of the area with my hands over my face! Had to pick them out of my pockets and take off my jacket and shake it. *shudder*
    Still I find your sonnet excellent. I don’t think COVID fog has impaired your poetic abilities….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.