Two Poems and Sunlight in Five Haiku

For Poetry Readings and News about National Poetry Month 2022
Click here

Butterfly Blues

I saw a poster once on a dorm room wall
Years ago now, an eye-blink masquerading as eternity
The poster was of a butterfly in flight, azure wings against a sun-filled sky
Below the image an oft-used sentiment: Just when the caterpillar
thought the world was over it became a butterfly.

Spring and Fall remind us of this —
Of cycles and seasons and symbols
Of metamorphoses and miracles
One has to bow to the magic of it all
The way life salvages and reinstates
The calendar year
The course of the moon
The sun sets only to rise again
The circular nature of how
Everything and everybody
Comes into being
Pirouettes for a time
Cocooned and camouflaged
Then finds a way back
To the place never left

I saw a poster the other day, taped to a garden wall,
Mere weeks ago now, but it feels like eternity
A caterpillar on a leaf, burnt orange against a star-filled sky
Around the image a circular refrain entwined: Being is becoming


Shadows on pavement
The sun sweeps day-light about
Capricious duster

Winter’s snow melts
Lodge pole pines in spring
Summer’s canoe

Buttery sunrise
A skiff, its mainsail luffing
The breeze, sweet honey

Sunset: Pacific
A sliding glass door observes
The sea and sun wed

Sunlight’s quicksilver
Energy’s legerdemain
Puddles for mirrors

Vermeer Reimagined

I see my reflection like a ghost in the glass
Wisps of hair lie flat against my scalp
Pressed down from hours beneath a turban
Confected of silk and satin and brought by ship from Antwerp
My lips, once rouged, are parched pale

I reach up to worry my hair, using fingers as a comb
Father shushed me gently to stop: It is alright dear, I just need your hands
I pick up the lute and take up a pose, not much different than the other
Head tilted, lips slightly apart, but now my eyes can rest on cool August light
The window is closed, but I imagine outside

Across the street the lacemaker at her threshold finishes her pinwork
Catching the last light of late summer sun, the steeple of New Church shines
Just a few moments ago, I was resplendent as a gypsy
Head bound tight as a drum, gaze fixed on his eyes
While he finished my mouth

I still wear the earrings, the size of sparrows’ eggs
Fashioned out of tin-drops and lead-white
Over the golden mantle I wear a morning coat
Spotted to look like leopard with lamp-black
The lute, missing a string Papa will make perfect in the end

We are not poor, mother maintains,
But still, economies must be made,
Your father needs finery to create his tableaus.
And it is true, I think, looking about the room now, there is evidence aplenty
From ceiling to floor the room is awash with treasure

Days are spent collecting costumes from mariners and troubadours
Merchants and mimes, frequenting market stalls and fisherman’s wharfs
Haggling and swapping, for curiosities from lands beyond my imaging
I help him to keep it all neatly arranged
On open shelves at the back of the room

The top-most almost higher than my reach is the place for hats
A Cavalier’s — broad brimmed, flat topped, as black as pitch
A Chinaman’s straw cone — bought for a song from a sailor
A lush velveteen angora felt, the size of a serving dish, the color of ripe plums
Bartered off a traveler on his way home from war

At the back of the room, my brother enters
Trying on hats he makes comical faces
When he doffs the outrageous magenta one he grins, I giggle
Father turns and looks at him and speaks,
Aha, my lad! Stop, just there by the window, I will paint you!

Johannes Vermeer paintings that served as springboards for this ekphrastic poem:
Young Woman With A Lute Near A Window, The Metropolitan Museum
Girl with a Pearl Earring, Mauritshuis Museum
The Little Street, Rijksmuseum
Girl with a Red Hat, National Gallery, Washington, DC

Click here to register for the Poetry & the Creative Mind fundraising gala presented by the Academy of American Poets, the nation’s leading organization championing poets and poetry, an April 28th online event.

Margaret Ryan lives in Florida, just north of Tampa, where she writes and paints. OLLI classes have been a source of inspiration for her fiction and poetry, particularly Marilyn Myerson’s Imaginative Writing course and Cath Mason’s poetry events. Her ekphrastic poem, Vermeer Reimagined, was inspired by an OLLI class she attended: More than Meets the Eye: Our Perspectives in Art, which included a review of Vermeer’s paintings.


4 Replies to “Two Poems and Sunlight in Five Haiku”

  1. I am deliciously blown away by Margaret’s powers of magic: to put words on paper which conjure up realms for the reader to visit, frolic in, and be refreshed by unalloyed beauty.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Verified by MonsterInsights