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Gloria Heffernan


The first time I saw one,

I had to pull off the road,

too wound up in wonder to wonder why.

I simply gazed at the aerial choreography:

Murmuration, a wave of starlings

whirling and wheeling across the sky.

Meditation in motion,

Lava lamp lit in the winter dusk.

Fibonacci sequence of spirals spinning

into funnel clouds and coiling flows—

shapeshifting curtain in constant motion—

black rose blooming across the horizon—

mammoth butterfly with undulating wings —

beating heart aloft in the fading light.

A thousand wings murmur on the wind.

I merely murmur, Amen.

Meeting Emily

When your future stepdaughter is an entomologist,

you have to rethink your relationship with bugs.

A bee is not a flying weapon out to puncture tender flesh,

but a highly specialized aviator,

willing to lay down its life for the community.

Ants are not picnic invaders but engineers,

teaching us how to work together for the common good.

Meeting her in Florida for the first time,

I am determined to make a good impression.

A glass of chardonnay and small-talk around the patio,

while a palmetto bug shoots back and forth like a comet at my feet.

I will not shriek like the city girl I am and always will be.

I will not flee to the insect-free screened porch.

Show no fear, I tell myself, as I squeeze her father’s hand.

But when she sees me cringing at the infernal buzzing,

she scoops the bug up in her hand and gently places it

in the bed of myrtle edging the garden.

Ten years later, I still hate bugs.

But oh, how I love Emily.


Gloria Heffernan is the author of the poetry collection, What the Gratitude List Said to the Bucket List, (New York Quarterly Books), and Exploring Poetry of Presence: A Companion Guide for Readers, Writers and Workshop Facilitators (Back Porch Productions). She has written two chapbooks: Hail to the Symptom (Moonstone Press) and Some of Our Parts, (Finishing Line Press). Her work has been published in numerous literary journals including Chautauqua, Magma (UK), Stone Canoe, Columbia Review, and The Healing Muse. She teaches at Le Moyne College and the Syracuse YMCA’s Downtown Writers Center.


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