I can’t recall my exact location
the night a red dragonfly
came through the window of my car
to settle on my arm.
The heart has selective memory,
and all coordinates and compass points
are more than it can manage
when it breaks, but I do remember
low-slung globes of cloud,
the kind my father insisted
were faithful predictors
of lightning and large, disfigured stones
of hail he called Chimney Fish
on account of the dark crosshatching
on the surface, the tapering shape and fins of ice.
As the dragonfly held fast to the hairs on my arm
with its fuse-wire legs,
I thought of small aircraft awaiting clearance
for take-off, and this, by extension,
led to migratory birds on a flyway
after leaving winter in Siberia:
the red-necked stint,
eastern curlew and whimbrel
who lose more than half their body weight
prior to touching down.
The dragonfly’s wings were shimmering.
I’d like to say they were lit
by neon stacked over the street
where I had parked outside a restaurant.
I’d like to say its arrival
was intentional, a messenger
with good news, not just an insect
that had blown in through a window.
My research suggests its name
is red-veined darter of the order Odonata,
whose appearance has been known
to coincide with unusual
solar flare activity and times of personal loss.
Thunder was turning over
its inboard engines, and the sky
was throwing the switch to light its dark towers.
Did the rain turn to hail
and carpet the road?
Did the darter make a sound like sifting,
as when fine sand
is poured from palm to palm,
or when long hair is combed, repeatedly,
with tines of tortoiseshell?