Ocean Beach Park
While Gazing at a Painting of Tie-Dyed Butterflies
by Rhonda Ward
While Gazing at a Painting of Tie-Dyed Butterflies with aquamarine and turquoise wings over a backdrop of gold-leaf sunshine, I am reminded of the time I faced the praying mantis, rubbing his greedy hands together as I bent over to tie my shoes, paralyzedby the rhythm of his prayer.
In my mind, he was giving thanks for what he was about to receive.
Before the praying mantis, I caught butterflies and bees in jars with holes hammered into the lids, was unafraid to step up to the bright purple flowers in our back yard and hover over a fuzzy yellowjacket, poised jar in one hand, lid in the other waiting for him to light on the sweet stamen.
But the praying mantis was alien with his bulging eyes, triangular head and stoic stick figure. I almost believed he would have me for his meal then remembered my shoes were made for running.
After the praying mantis, I gave up catching butterflies and bees, throwing rocks and walking the trusses of the train tracks with my brothers. That was the year my mother made me take ballet.
Poem by Rhonda Ward who currently lives in New London, Connecticut. She has appeared at many venues to read her work including the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Arts Cafe Mystic, the University of Connecticut at Avery Point, Curbstone Press’ Poetry in the Park series, and in England at the International Women’s Arts Festival in Kendal, Cumbria. In 2008, Ward was a judge for the Rhode Island State Poetry Contest.
Ward’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online literary journals including Long Island Quarterly, Temper Review, Siren, Burning Word, and the anthology Burningword Ninety-Nine: A Selected Anthology of Poetry, 2001-2011.
Ward’s CD collection of her poems, As I Live and Breathe…Poems, highlights the passion she brings to her readings with styles ranging from traditional to performance.