My collection Water-Rites was begun in response to a drought and a death. Interesting that the book’s release appears during an unusually wet spring here in my valley. On my morning walk through the meadow today, I saw quite a few species of dragonflies, generally a sign of a damp period in my region. Two days ago, mantis cases hatched; now there are tiny praying mantises on the patio slates, in the lawn, and among the grassy flora where we seldom mow.

The bees are out; the cabbage moths and early butterflies busy themselves with knapweed, eupatoria, penstemon, golden alexanders, honeysuckle, milkweed. The fragrance settles above the dewy grasses.

Most people are aware of honeysuckle’s scent. Few people know how lovely the aroma of milkweed blossom is. You have to time it just right–there’s no perceptible scent when the buds are furled, and the blooms are open only briefly. Almost at once, the blossoms ripen into pale knobs that will produce the familiar pods full of seeds packed cone-like into the pointed cases, silks battened tightly until autumn dries the pods and they burst.

But in early or mid-June, when the butterflies begin to arrive, those blooms are pale purple clusters of fragrance on a stem.

milkweed bloom


Ephemera intrigues me. Human ephemera usually is just that: brief, transitory, “lasting a day” (the Latin name for daylily, hemerocallis, comes from the same root: ἐφήμερα). Our letters, our emails, our YouTube videos and Hallmark greeting cards and shopping receipts.

Biological ephemera, however, is part and parcel of the cycle of life.

And poetry? Perhaps it’s an effort on the part of human beings to contribute to the lasting sort of ephemera.




milkweed in autumn Ann E. Michael


4 comments on “Ephemera

  1. singingbones says:

    liked your post, Anne, and thanks for that beautiful word! I’ll try to keep it in my stock of good vocabulary words for future blogs!! it sounds so interesting to say it aloud too….


  2. singingbones says:

    and now I have read this sweet poem by jane Timms…

    a button to press


    resist the urge

    to depress this plump of moss

    firmly with a finger


    will take you up

    to the first floor

    where the bunchberry blooms

    or the second where bracken

    planks an ephemeral floor

    or the 67th where leaves align

    precisely with sun


    or down

    to where the roots criss-cross

    in confused abandon


  3. […] again, I reflect on ephemera. One of the most moving photos Michael took is one of his sons’ birth certificates, charred, […]


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