I spotted this giant swallowtail, an uncommon species here, on my front porch just after I’d posted about something else to The Morning Porch, so decided to make an Instagram post out of it instead. The haiku came to me in the shower. Since it also works as a caption, an old-postcard-style haiga seemed the obvious approach.
One advantage to only using a cellphone for photography is that it requires one to get physically close to one’s subjects for photos like this, which involve lots of patient stalking. Out of such absorbing experiences, haiku sometimes emerge fully formed. Such was the case with me and a series of monarchs this afternoon. And it’s a great example of how scientific knowledge contributes to a sense of wonder. So yes, I had a direct experience in a sort of Zen way, but that experience was shaped by my knowledge of monarchs’ multi-generational, epic migration—an epic they themselves presumably have no intellectual grasp of. Like most animals, they are, we suppose, in the moment at all times. Which is simultaneously attractive and terrifying to contemplate.