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monarch

Image by Aunt Owwee via Flickr

 A Thousand Miles Of Hell

The butterflies are drifting south,
   At twenty miles a day –                               *
Soft monarchs, silken kings on wings,
   Hardy travelers, they.

From far away as Canada,
   And east as far as Maine,
They migrate south through Texas skies
   To Mexico to hang

There on oyamel trees, their firs,              **
   Their coats for winter’s cold
That they ne’er wear, but rather coat,
   As they cling close, wings fold.     

As if the journey weren’t enough,
   They face another foe,
Which waits them, new, in Texas climes,
   A line like Maginot.

The drought has robbed the Texas store.
   Supplies?  There’s none to sell.
Food, water scarce, there’s nothing but
   “A thousand miles of hell.”                         ***

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* They actually average about 25 miles a day (poetic license!).

** oh YAH mel, a Mexican fir tree

*** “A thousand miles of hell” was a phrase used by an insect ecologist named Chip Taylor, as quoted in the article whose link is below.  Since Texas is not a thousand miles across, he was including the part of Mexico they will have to traverse before reaching their hibernating grounds.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/can-monarch-butterflies-make-it-through-texas/2011/10/07/gIQAEt8ySL_story.html

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© Dennis Lange and thebardonthehill.wordpress.com, 2011.

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