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Smell Giveaway (Threes on long stalks)

Galium triflorum
Gallium sphinx caterpillar

The breathing swale trails
the horned and hovering,

the sweet-scented bedstraw,
the ascending bedstraw hawkmoth.

Dusk-feeding nightfall,
a bullbatting nighthawk,

a loggerhead of grebe and shrike,
pipit pipit pipit.


A Melodic Expectation

A day transpires in an hour.
Purple prairie clover,
nodding beggarticks,
alighting cabbage whites.


Before slough transmutation
there was knobbed and kettled,
trifolium-forage and bloat-stop,
a pretense of yellow clover and nature.

© Sylvia Legris
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Photo Credit:

This Gallium sphinx moth, or Bedstraw hawkmoth, Hyles gallii, was photographed in Carbon County, Montana, but Sylvia Legris met the species in its caterpillar form in Saskatoon’s Northeast Swale.  Photo © Thomas J. Astle

Did you know ..

hawk moth caterpillars are large and fleshy, about the size of an adult person’s little finger. In addition to Bedstraws, they also eat fireweed. As adults, these insects are sometimes known as “hummingbird moths” because of their size and their translucent wings. They rush from flower to flower, sipping nectar.

Webs of relationships and sensation are held in these poems. Like an ecosystem or our own sensory networks, they are simply, beautifully complex.

Author: Sylvia Legris

Sylvia Legris’ next poetry collection, Garden Physic, is forthcoming in late 2021 with New Directions (US) and Granta Books (UK). Her poems have appeared in New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, Granta, Poetry, and The New Yorker. In 2019 she was one of two featured artists in the inter-national journal Music & Literature. The poems here are from a work in progress titled The Principle of Rapid PeeringRead an interview with Sylvia in Music & Literature