So far we have poems about - the meteorite, the Benin Tusk, dinosaur eggs, trade, where our food comes from, and the Golden Mantella frog.
And hopefully soon there will at last be a Butterfly Poem, and a Buckles one! Then I've got this phrase that I jotted down in my book some weeks ago "a museum in a machine for travelling time and space". I think there's a poem in there somewhere - perhaps one that introduces the whole set. There's also a fragment of a Paper Birds poem. Then I'd still like to come back to Hermes who seems to have wandered off. He's always was a tricky character and, it seems, a God who really doesn't want to be pinned down (unlike the butterflies maybe....)
On Friday I went to see Phil from the Entomology Department. I had a great time looking at different specimens. So far I have interpreted the theme of migration very widely, but I wanted to write a poem that looked at migration in a more expected way - the way most of us, especially those of us with a biological bent might understand it. I also wanted to try for a Butterfly poem - seeing as the project is called Buckles and Butterflies!
To be honest I wasn't really sure if butterflies did migrate - sometimes the facts really do get in the way - so I was relieved when Phil handed me a paper about Monarch butterflies and proceeded to pull out case after case of lovely insects.
Monarch butterflies are particularly interesting as they breed as they migrate from South America to North America - it takes 4 generations for them to get there. The last generation doesn't fully mature sexually until they've got back to South America and over-wintered in a torpor(always an attractive prospect) and are ready to fly North again. Sometimes they arrive in Britain by accident. I did think that The Accidental Migrant would make a good title for a poem.
But I was also fascinated by the Red Admiral. Like many of us this is a butterfly that's very familiar to me, and I hadn't realised it was a migrant from Southern Europe - although as our winters get warmer some of them are surviving over here. It feeds on nettles which is why it's so often seen near rough ground. We see them on our walks though not as often as I used to do as a child - and a quick google confirms that their numbers have dropped though they're not yet endangered. I remember they used to fly into our classroom at primary school on summer days when the windows were open.
Cabbage whites are also migrants. I've been disappointed not to see any caterpillars this year despite growing cabbages, but perhaps that's because the slugs got there first!
The Death's Head Hawkmoth is also a migrant from Southern Europe. I'm rather taken with them even though they're not butterflies, mostly because they're big, furry and squeak and I have a bad habit of anthropomorphising! They're supposed to be bad luck because of the skull on their backs (actually I think it looks more like the ghosts from Pacman) but having learned about the incredible journey they make from Spain and Italy I'm wondering if they're actually pretty lucky.
So that's my dilemma this week. Do I go for the Red Admiral, a butterfly children are likely to see and recognise, or abandon the idea of having a butterfly poem and write about the Deaths Head Hawkmoth with all its drama. We'll see.....