It starts with eggs
sinking to the riverbed.
Each begins in sediment
aeons deep; naiads
with all they need
until the rising,
the surfacing;
emerging into a blue sky
or a wet day - wing case
shrugged free.
Winged instars
stagger into flight
over hungry mouths of trout -
wide open for the feast.
The time is ripe,
these few hours of life
become weightless; rehearsal
for the imago. Each resting
drab dun beneath a leaf’s
shade, waiting
for change, for what
they came for, moulting beige
for a spinner’s damsel patterns
and new gauze wings
for mating in.
Unburdened lightness;
stomachs filled with air,
vestigial lips to kiss
it all goodbye in one
last tantalising dance.

Two shots, one act.
At full height, love proceeds
the desire to fall; the lure,
the lake’s mirror.
This is the tale of the mayfly,
dayfly, shadfly,
beginning again.
It starts with eggs
sinking to the riverbed.

Julia Stothard

If you have any comments on this poem,  
Julia Stothard would be pleased to hear them.