The Dragonfly in the Conservatory…

An unwitting entry to the conservatory for a creature so short on thought that it traps itself within. Imprisoned by an inability to trace its wingbeats back through the slim white door from which it arrived. To roughly observe: I see it little changed from its carboniferous era ancestors; a striking curiosity, the size of a small bird—a living anachronism. There’s a bassy buzz about its thorax that announces its presence quite overtly; one that alerts and lures another carnivore, Kitty (the household predator), from a summer afternoon slumber. A twitch of a whisker, a brain stirred by instinct. One eye, then two. Two vertically slit eyes—open wide—attuned and topped with a crown of black triangular hoods that reflexively track the dragonfly’s careens and caroms. Each sharp change of direction for the insect, a recovery from mandible-first whacks into the glass walls and ceilings of the sunlit jail.

I envisage this marvel of nature’s straying will see it die sooner than it should. Let nature take its course says one percent of me. I crush the cockroach of a notion with a no and the weight of the other ninety nine percent of me. What awaits?—Death by impact and fall and consequent consumption by scavenging cat? Or capture by swiping claw, death and consequent consumption by hunting cat? The outlook from the point of those rounded, compound eyes, is grim. But I shall save the beast; I’ll save its being and its outlook.

Nature’s course gets a cocked snook, I get the cat and eject it from the conservatory. It eyes me, miffed, from behind a glass pane. My attention turns to the dragonfly and to a how to. A how to take such a delicate thing in order to release it? One snap of wing or antenna will confine it to ground to starve but too effete an attempt will spook it into head-butting the glass more frantically. No way to usher it out, it can’t conceive that solids can be transparent. No, I need a net. But no net, I have no net.

A flimsier than flimsy plastic bag, sat upon the washer homes pegs of many colours, offering itself as the impromptu tool of choice. I tip out the pegs and strengthen the edges of the bag by rolling them over themselves. Aloft I hold it and after dragonfly I go.

Some clambering over conservatory furniture, footholds askew and body in the awkwardest of stances—I make my catch. Deft but with utmost delicacy the dragonfly is enclosed in the thinnest of sail-white a shell. I bring myself and my captive out through the slim door to a more comfortable setting. No buzz; the critter’s settled and most likely believing it has been eaten. ‘Not so bad’ I imagine it would report to itself if it were able.

Peeling away the edges of the bag to put the light from the clear blue above on to this, the greenest (yes, so green there’s fluorescence in its viridescence) of curios reveals to me the beauty in its oddity. I’d stare and marvel at its strangeness a day and more were I not fearing this moment is fleeting. The dragonfly’s will is its own now; if it would care to beat those wings and take off.

If it had the inkling.

A few seconds more I’m afforded the privilege of its presence. Vivid in this day’s solar splendour I see sharp blacks now amongst those greens. Missed and unseen the first time for their stealthy containment of the stranger stronger colour; but with attention the lines that frame its paintwork take their stage and intrigue me as artwork—angled by Cubists and put down I dare say by a single bristled brush dipped in the most exquisite back end of a squid’s bottom! I need a camera, to capture this that I’m seeing and this that I’m setting free. But no time, I have no time. The wings (of four) both aft and fore touch the ground once and then rise through their range; the auto-pilot inside that big-eyed, bug-eyed vessel is running flight checks.

I fumble for my camera-phone but as quick-fingered as I am I can’t pull any focus on the scene and so with a snook as cocked as the snook before; the being lifts off and takes its green to be enveloped in the blue above. Big dot, small dot, smaller dot.


Still, with no still to show for the experience I am prompted to document this to prompt the memory next time I visit—and so I have.



Cutting to June 2016 the conservatory’s gone now, demolished in the name of progress. A big brick extension of more practicality sits in its place. This is why I write.