At the Poetry Reading

The collective name for ladybugs is a loveliness

I am distracted by a ladybug
who flies on to the seat in front of me

and waddles across the top
of some guy’s seat who is not aware

of her presence. I do nothing
but watch her fire red dome and

count her spots. I want to hold her–
I wish she would choose me as a landing strip.

She eclipses the poem
that goes on without me–

And, like that, she disappears
under the weight of a writer’s back as he shifts

uncomfortably in his seat.
I didn’t expect this to be her fate.

Her tiny life moves me more
than all of these words, I have heard so far.

And as I mourn her,
she crawls triumphantly

out from the folds of his hoodie,
somehow still alive.

I cup her gingerly between my fingers,
place her in the palm of my hand.

I am her ground now and
I congratulate myself on this rescue

as she rides with me through these lines.
I turn my head to the open

door and the sun. It is May and new
outside on this Vermont mountain.

She does not pause now as she
crawls on to my jeans.

When the poem ends, she decides
now is as good as any moment

to take flight, clapping her wings. I follow
her path and discover a loveliness

of ladies on the white walls of the little theater
who have formed their own constellation.

Poem by Victoria Nordlund

Victoria Nordlund is an adjunct professor at the University of Connecticut. Her chapbook Binge Watching Winter on Mute will be published in Spring 2019 by Main Street Rag. She is a 2018 Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize Nominee, whose work has appeared in PANK Magazine, Gone Lawn, Ghost Proposal, Maudlin House, and other journals. You can read more of her work at

Photo by Thijs van der Weide