Swallows and Swallowtails

Coming to water at varied times
different days, I see something new
with each circumnavigation
of a mountain lake, a small gem
fifteen miles from home.

With the blue kayak tied
atop the old red Subaru
all summer long, I can
fly on the cusp of a whim
to cool pine-scented woods.

The swallows are always there
at every time of day, darting
in twos and threes above my head,
flashing rusty undersides,
chic against dark wings.

Sometimes I chase kingfishers
keeping just ahead in trees,
or spotted sandpipers
picking their way up the shore,
subtly leading me along.

Today there are butterflies,
although I cannot imagine
what swallowtails will find
in the way of nectar at this
lake with so few flowers.

A yellow one lights briefly
on my kayak, perhaps
mistaking it for a tubular
blue flower of large girth
with waving paddle leaves.

Or perhaps they come to drink,
as I have, the extraordinary
beauty of the day: small breeze,
towering cumuli, gray rocks
overhung with pines and peace.


Poem by Janet M. Powers

Janet M. Powers, Professor Emerita, Gettysburg College, taught for 49 years in the fields of South Asian literature and civilization, women’s studies, and peace studies. She has published poetry in many small journals. Her chapbook, Difficult to Subdue as the Wind, appeared in 2009. Janet still stands on street corners with signs — trying to change this sorry world of ours.