Poetry Friday: Damselfly, Trout, Heron


Today I start teaching habitats to my grade 4 class. I think I could spend all year teaching this. Two of my most vivid school science memories happened when I was around that age and we were studying habitats. We brought rubber boots and nets to school one day and went wading through a river at the back of school property capturing minnows and other tiny creatures and putting them in buckets to study them. So much fun – and what a learning experience. (You’d probably need about a zillion permission forms to do that now, and the kids would have to be wearing lifejackets and hazmat suits!) I also remember building a terrarium. If I close my eyes, I can picture everything that went into that pickle jar. Here’s a beautiful poem I found about the food chain.

Damselfly, Trout, Heron – by John Engels

The damselfly folds its wings
over its body when at rest. Captured,
it should not be killed
in cyanide, but allowed to die
slowly: then the colors,
especially the reds and blues,
will last. In the hand
it crushes easily into a rosy
slime. Its powers of flight
are weak. The trout

feeds on the living damselfly.
The trout leaps up from the water,
and if there is sun you see
the briefest shiver of gold,
and then the river again.
When the trout dies
it turns its white belly
to the mirror of the sky.
The heron fishes for the trout

in the gravelly shallows on the far
side of the stream…

Read the rest of this beautiful poem, packed with visual detail at Poetry Foundation. (Photo credit: kansasphoto’s flickrstream)

3 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Damselfly, Trout, Heron

  1. Caroline Rose

    When I was student teaching, I helped with a project about the Rio Grande. My mentor teacher gave me free reign in his classroom (which was such a safe, supportive way for me to learn), so while the science class focused on things like habitat, we read Carolyn Meyer’s Rio Grande Stories and created our own anthology, Rio Grande Stories that Somehow Formed a Book (thirteen years later, that title still makes me smile!).

    I also brought in Fleishman’s Joyful Noise poem about mayflys for my students to read in unison. It was a rich way to learn about our community, to connect science and language arts, and to bring poetry naturally into the classroom setting.

  2. laurasalas

    Oh, this is beautiful! It reminds me of a couple of years ago, at a family YMCA camp in northern Minnesota, we sat by the lake one night at dusk watching something like damselflies landing on the lake in droves and the fish streaking up to catch them. We sat there a long time, mesmerized by the scene and the gorgeous night.

    Lovely memory, lovely poem. Thanks for sharing!

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