Green-veined White by Martin Hayden

Submitted by Martin Hayden on Tue, 27/09/2016 - 19:30

(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

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