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Chasers, Caerulae, Club-Tails, Elegans

and Parthenopes, Mercuriales, Skimmers,

Ear Cutters, Devil’s Needles, Adderbolts,

Horse-Stingers, Eye-Pokers – your varied names.

You’ve hung around three hundred million years;

you can move in six directions; hover;

fly backwards and you switch from side to side.

Motion camouflage paralyses prey.

Your ocelli are attracted to bling:

even to a shiny, granite graveslab,

Emperors, Blue-eyed Darners, Globe-Skimmers,

Freeline Emeralds, Dropwings, Brown Hawkers

and even Common Whitetails – your females

(dimorphic) are deceptively like males.

You live most of your brief life as a nymph,

mating in tandem, you create heart rings,

like suave, romantic nicotine addicts.

Your adolescents breathe through their recta,

propelling themselves by the expulsion

of water from the anus.  Cannibals,

you can eat one fifth of your weight a day.

Your obelisk posture avoids solar

radiation, yet before you are named,

you can become extinct, though ancestors

can return on your winged frames,

as the Samurai believed, adopting

your form on lacquered and gilded helmets,

in homage to the hovering rice gods.

In Wales you follow snakes and stitch up wounds;

in Sweden, sneak up on lying children;

your songs revived Mayan goddess, Ix chel.

And, when a mosquito tried to steal blood

from Emperor Jimmu, a demoiselle

zapped it.  Henceforth, the lands below were called

Akitsushimai: Dragonfly Islands.

Today you shimmer round me and I know

your shy presence is a volt from the blue;

your iridescence a magical gift

like a glass goblet brought back from Venice;

given to one who may never go there.