Dragonfly Rescue

Patricia Fontaine
From: Lifting My Shirt: the breast cancer poems
Last Modified: July 16, 2003

She batted through the web
before I could run back,
tangling the dragonfly, and then
to the ground, where it flailed about
full of grit and bits of leaves.
My friends beseeched me to rescue it
and sighing I agreed,
for the girl I did not know
who's father was dying now,
for my young friend who's father
died gallantly in December
for my own life again
in the sticky threads of cancer.

Biting my lip
I sent for sharp scissors,
the dragonfly clung to my finger, here comes the
bite I thought, but it only settled,
chewing instead at a chunk of web
while I snipped and held breath,
eased each strand from the wings,
the incredibly delicate wings,
dreading the moment I would tear them
or slip the scissors blade.

It curled its abdomen up
and rested there
and although I ached for its flight
I left it be, everyone disinterested now,
its death or deliverance not something to dwell on
for 2 girls whose fathers
would not be helped to live.

When I saw that it had flown
I wished we could have spoken
could it tell me it was grateful,
could I tell myself,
for how inevitably we work
to free ourselves,
from this particular ordeal,
for all the wonder and surprise,
held in hands that free us
with precision and with tenderness.

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