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August Jubilation on a Florida Beach
by Mary Jo Balistreri

I spin in the midst of swarms
of dragonflies rising, swirling, tinting the air
in shades of red, pink, blue and gold,
air balloons with wings, diaphanous wings
that dart, arrive, depart—fuse in plain sight.

People rise out of beach chairs, from blankets,
wonder out loud what's going on. Everywhere
we turn more dragonflies. Flying upside down,
zigzag, they land on the restaurant roof, fly inside.
We gawk, take pictures, children run after them
and everyone talks at once.

Suddenly a woman says, Listen up. I've checked
it out on my cell. She reads that this is the last act
of the Odonata drama, their last hurrah, the end
stage of their life cycle. She holds up a hand
as people begin talking.

They begin as naiads in water, unfold four new wings,
and become airborne to mate, return to the water
with eggs to ensure a new generation and get this,
they've been doing this for three million years.

A raucous cheer fills the air, the impossibility
of it all, this delirium of wings, flitting, cleaving
darning in blinding sunlit colors.

We look at each other enlivened at the marvel of it—
that we would witness such an event in our lifetime.
The sheer joy of watching hundreds
of metallic wings in the act of creation.


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