Sunday, July 18, 2021

Contemplating Monarchs and Mortality—Murfin Verse

In better times, Monarch in migration.

They said a couple of years ago Monarch butterflies are making a comeback of sorts.  My nature loving Facebook friends, who notice such things, commented from several locations and posted photos.  But before the celebration for the gets out of hand, ecologists, who should know, expressed concerns about long-range climate change, habitat destruction and the particularly egregious bulldozing of the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, a critical preserve, to make way for the Former Resident’s beloved border wall.  This year severe drought conditions in Mexico, Texas, and other areas along the Monarch’s long migratory path including northern Illinois has stunted and delayed the growth of milkweed, their only food source.

In 2015 Lisa Haderlein, a McHenry County maven of the environment and preserver and restorer of the wild places posted a photo on Facebook.  It was taken outside the Starline Gallery in Harvard.  It got me to thinking….

Lisa Haderlein's telling photo.

The Lovely Corpse

Monarchs, they say, are a dying breed.

Not the superfluous Royals of Windsor

            or oil rich Arabs.

They will disappear, too,

in their own good time

but are not our business here today.


I am talking about those golden orange and black

            zephyr riding marvels that by the millions

            used brighten Septembers

            with hints golden autumn yet to come

            on their epic migrations

            from Canadian prairies

            to Mexican piney woods.


They are scarcer with every passing year.

Now each sighting is an adventure

            like spotting some rare songbird

            flitting unexpectedly from bough to bough.


They say the warming world is to blame

            which is tough on common milkweed,

            the migrant’s only diet.




But if I say it aloud,

some Fox News talking head

will scream that I’m a liar and a fraud

and someone will decide that after all

they are illegal immigrants

and likely terrorists to boot

and propose to build a wall net

to ensnare them lest they

infect our purity.


A friend of mine espied one the other day

            and thought to snap a photo,

            but the monarch was not on wing

            or resting on some rare milkweed pod,

            but splatted against the gleaming grill

            of a Jaguar.


Think of all that horsepower

            from the carbon spewing engine

            that cooks the atmosphere

            that kills the milkweed

            yet made this assassination



—Patrick Murfin 

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