The Butterflies Are Dying
Cabbage whites with black-tipped forewings
are not floating this year
over broccoli, mustard and watercress.
West Coast ladies with blue spots
on their hindwings are not nectaring
on blossoms of rabbitbrush.
The number of Western monarchs
has decreased to one-tenth
of one percent of their former population.
With warmer fall weather, their bodies,
regal in orange and black, overheat.
Adults and eggs dehydrate.
The butterflies don’t know when
to migrate, hibernate or reproduce.
They can’t find food, and even if
they lay eggs, the eggs are dying.
Four hundred fifty butterfly species
in the West now face extinction.
Oh, welcome them with milkweed
and sunflowers, rabbitbrush, mustard.
Today, say Come to my garden.
Kudzu vines grow one foot per day
to cover other plants, even trees,
and smother them, cutting off light.
Asian longhorn beetles attack
maple, birch, elm, ash, poplar
and other trees. Their larvae aren’t
picky: any soft, sappy bark will do.
They burrow, make tunnels deep
into a tree and fatally weaken it.
The small Indian mongoose may
be cute, but it’s no kinder. It carries
rabies. A predator that caused
the bar-winged rail’s extinction,
it eats many kinds of reptiles,
mammals and birds. All this is
nothing. The most invasive species
of all is overrunning the Earth,
destroying wetlands, leveling forests,
filling the oceans with garbage.
It razes mountains, spills oil on
beaches, heats the atmosphere
and wipes out other species
for profit, convenience or food.
An omnivore, it eats almost
everything. I fear it won’t stop
until every river is dammed to
a trickle, redwoods and whales
are history, and every one of its
kind has a square foot of space.
Sea of Japan: Kanazawa to Sokcho
The sea is calm today, the ship on autopilot, our course
set at 283 degrees: northwest. The U.S. has issued a warning:
airliners flying over the Persian Gulf risk being shot down
by the Iranians. At least two people staff the bridge
around the clock to watch for obstacles, tsunamis, storms.
But the captain is always on stand-by, even when sleeping.
The Sea of Japan gently rises and falls. China calls it
the Whale Sea, Korea the East Sea. Below the surface,
sardines, mackerels and salmon hold their festival despite
nitric acid, plastic, overfishing and giant jellyfish blooms.
In Sokcho, flame jellyfish are served in salad while
glistening fish hang in crowded markets with open mouths.