Martin Hayden

Martin Hayden p.1

Green-veined White


Green-veined White
(a found poem, after Jeremy Thomas, 
The Butterflies of Britain and Ireland, 1991)

In sunshine
in weak, zig-zag flights
he investigates edges:
of shrubs, woodland rides, tussock,
finds a female.
He lands nearby,
showers her with 'love-dust'
so potent even we can get
its scent of lemon verbena.
A twirling and a chasing
before she lands, signals
acceptance by folding her wings.
He drags her
on a short nuptial flight
before they settle,
locked in tandem.

During mating
he smears her
with anti-aphrodisiac
to keep others away
but it's less-potent, short-lived,
an attractive female
frequently harassed.
She can signal rejection
by opening her wings wide,
holding her abdomen upright
at 90 degrees,
impossible to mate,
but will frequently succumb,
wanting fresh doses
of anti-aphrodisiac,
to lay her eggs in peace.

He goes mud-puddling,
to replace minerals
lost in mating.

In a slow, topsy-turvy flight,
as if injured, desperate to get airborne,
she tastes every plant,
seeking the mustard oils of Crucifers,
on which she lays.

Four or five together,
on the underside
of a lady's smock seedling
sprouting in old hoof-prints
in a boggy meadow.

Copyright © 2016 Martin Hayden
Green-veined White read by Martin Hayden
After three days of rain, the roadside rivulets
and runnels peat-brown, brimful,
surging the long trails of grass
caught in their edges
(three ten pound notes stuck together
in my soapy leather wallet),
I saw, in a field above the loch,
a ewe with its lamb – not 
a black-faced-and-wide-eared,
but a curly-headed, with the slight chunkiness
of the no-longer-new-born.
Both had their backs to the prevailing slant,
the ewe nonchalantly ripping the grass
as if all Scotland's rain
had at some time washed through that fleece,
the lamb perfecting the soaked-through hunch
of the picked-on and early-disappointed.
His eyelids flickered, ineffective shutters,
his three-legged stance (one front leg
flexing with a delicate shiver)
a minimal escape from wet earth.
The ewe, slightly lifting her head
in order to concentrate backwards,
shook her heavy fleece like a mat,
in a burst of subsiding misty spray.
The sleeves of my waterproof close to saturation,
I squeezed out the peak of my drenched cloth cap
and set off back up the hill into the cloud.

Copyright © 2008 Martin Hayden

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