Agapanthus, or Lily of the Nile

This is a meditation on death.

It starts with the agapanthus, a short
agapanthus tucked under a tall agapanthus:
perhaps cousins of the same color,
perhaps a different species. Both a tropical
azure blue.

Wait, death will come, but first the one flower
of the short agapanthus hatches like a robin chick,
pecking at its green pod, which hangs on
like a shard of eggshell or the egg tooth. I can
almost hear it chirping.

We saw doves lay eggs in a basket on the porch,
the mother and father sitting on them
and hatching them. None of the hatchlings survived.

The individual spikes of flowers of the tall agapanthus
at first almost glow, but in only a few weeks
they droop and fade; and the same
with the short agapanthus.

And a butterfly sits in the tall agapanthus,
let’s say it’s a Monarch although it could be
the smaller, duller Viceroy.

But let’s say it’s a Monarch, king of butterflies.
It twitches its wings, then folds them so that the butterfly
is just a line barely seen while it sips agapanthus nectar.
Then it opens its showy wings and lifts high
into the realm of the sky.

I have seen crowds of migrating Monarchs cling to eucalyptus,
a brilliant orange and black display in Monterey,
and some drop laconically to the ground for a sip of dew.

And some haven’t enough energy to rise back up.
This is a meditation on death.

There are four stages to the butterfly’s development
and each one is a new life, a resurrection of sorts.
And each life is very short, as all life is short.
Even ours. It is all relative.

And then, if the butterfly makes it through its four lives
it mates and dies. And the eggs hatch. And the cycle
begins again.

Death – A piece of music

Picture by Eric Armitage

Poem by Jane Blue

Music by Cornelia Pasch

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