It is a pleasure to once again introduce Patricia A. McGoldrick of Kitchener, Ontario as this week's featured author ......
A FABLE IN ORANGE AND BLACK
By Patricia A. McGoldrick
“Mommy, when are the Monarchs coming?”
It all started with my daughter’s simple question on a hot day in August. We were sitting, on the deck, in the shade, overlooking the red and green trees of Forest Heights. The afternoon sun had been passing overhead, slowly. Thunder rumbled in the distance while yellow-white flashes of lightning narrowed into chains.
It was time to fold up our chairs but I had to answer Katie’s question first.
“The Monarchs won’t be coming this year, remember, dear?” In my mind, I knew that I would have to explain, again, what had happened to our summer friends. On this lazy summer afternoon, Katie wasn’t in a hurry and my mind began to wander back to when we had first met the Monarchs.
Our family’s favourite outing was a hike in Monarch woods, just off Victoria and Fischer-Hallman Road. In a decade of acid rain and ozone layer worries, what a reassuring blessing it was to have this stand of Carolinian forest so close to home! The aged trees were a welcome haven on those days, and our family journeyed through its pathways with many of our friends.
Perhaps that’s where Monarchs got off track, I thought. Maybe they stayed too long?
Last year, we had had such a great summer! It was there in Monarch Woods, that we met the Monarchs on a similar sweltering afternoon. Yes, it was just like today, before the thunder.
We had gone to the woods for a break from the heat. The tall green canopy cooled our bodies as we entered a trail and began our walk. Before we had gone very far, we met the Monarchs.
We were surprised to find out that we had so much in common. With a love of nature, and summer, we spent a lot of time outdoors, together. Young and old, we rallied in Monarch Woods.
Weeks flew by and before long the August nights were beginning to get cooler. We did not see the Monarchs as often; however, one last hot day, we dropped by their usual hang-out in the woods. There wasn’t any sign of them.
I recalled that they were traditional “snowbirds” and were intending to spend winter in the south. I envied them but didn't question their choices. They had the means to relocate while we were more tied to piano lessons and soccer practices.
Imagine our shock, a month later, when we read about our friends in the paper Headlines flashed the ugly truth about what had happened to our friends. The Monarchs had perished! They were stranded and helpless, in Mexico, after losing their winter home to developers. Condos towered about the ground where forests had previously stood. Our friends were unable to survive.
Without showing the graphic newspaper photos, my husband and I tried to explain the headlines to Katie. She did not seem to comprehend what we were saying.
Since that day, I have often wondered to myself—how do you tell an eight year old about the death of such good friends? How is an eight year old supposed to respond? Today, again, I will try.
“Katie, remember how much fun we had last summer with the Monarchs? Well, as your Dad and I have told you, the Monarchs went south, to their winter home. When they got there, they found that things had changed and they weren’t able to stay, in their usual place. It had been destroyed by a building project. Their whole family wasn’t able to readjust. It was just too much for them. They weren’t able to survive. They perished.”
“But Mommy, why? Why did someone destroy their home? They never hurt anybody.”
“No. You’re right dear. They never harmed anyone.”
“What did they do? They just lived. They didn’t bother anybody. It’s not fair.”
“No, it isn’t fair.”
Katie and I just sat there, on the deck, counting the seconds between thunder and lightning, remembering the Monarchs. In my mind, everything was fading to orange and black.
“Katie, maybe we could put a flower marker for them in Monarch Woods—one of your orange tiger lilies with the black dots—so we won’t forget them. Let’s pick some after the storm, shall we?”
“Sure. Let’s do that. Will everyone remember the Monarchs, Mommy?”
“I hope so, dear. I surely do.”
2013 BIO CURRENT
Patricia Anne McGoldrick is a Kitchener, Ontario Canada writer whose poetry and reviews have been published in the Christian Science Monitor, The WM Review Connection, and ChapterandVerse.ca. Poems published in anthologies, including: Animal Companions, Animal Doctors, Animal People; Beyond the Dark Room, an international collection of transformative poetry, with proceeds from book sales being given to Doctors Without Borders/MSF; Poetic Bloomings--the first year.
Patricia is a member of The Ontario Poetry Society and the League of Canadian Poets.W E B: Patricia-Anne-McGoldrick BLOGS: PM_Poet Writer; PM27's blog TWITTER: @pamcgoldrick