My older daughter is a real entomophobe, and she protested by loud wailings my choice of subject for yesterday’s painting. I had said “dragonfly” and so I agreed that it did sound scary. Is “damselfly” more charming?
They are, in fact, two different types of creatures in the order Odonata. But maybe they occupy a similar place in imagination. Prehistoric gaze. Wings that seem made of water. A damselfly paused on the top edge of my book while I lay on the lawn next to a pool the other day. Which of us was deeper in the poem?
Maybe I wonder what the damselfly knows. And maybe the desire to know such things is a desire lighter than air. Is there a word for those of us who ask questions of insects?
I like the way this poem by Thomas Hardy deals with the other consciousnesses in this compressed moment of encounter.
An August Midnight
A shaded lamp and a waving blind,
And the beat of a clock from a distant floor:
On this scene enter — winged, horned, spined —
A longlegs, a moth, and a dumbledore;
While ‘mid my page there idly stands
A sleepy fly, that rubs its hands…
Thus meet we five, in this still place,
At this point of time, at this point in space.
— My guests besmear my new-penned line,
Or bang at the lamp and fall supine.
“God’s humblest, they!” I muse. Yet why?
They know Earth-secrets that know not I.Thomas Hardy, via Poets.org
Each of the five presences does what they are accustomed to do. The poet, most of all, awakens by creative process to the silence. At midnight, at midday, there are poems to connect us to our deep selves with reflection.