Odonatologists’ Anecdote by Matt Howard

    After all the flight seasons, mosquito bites,

    sunburn, then winters, wading through papers,

    working theories of dragonfly behaviours –

    display, refusals, reproductions -

    often just as glints in his mind’s eye, then

    chasing those reflections, wing strokes and shadows

    down so many watercourses and flyways;

    well, no field note was so ardent or true

    as that one moment Hansruedi Wildermuth,

    distinguished Swiss Odonatologist,

    stood barefoot by his own garden pond

    and along she came, tickling with a view

    to oviposit in the thin shade of skin

    just under the ball of his left ankle.


    Matt Howard lives in Norwich, where he works for the RSPB. Matt is also a steering group member of New Networks for Nature, an eco-organisation that asserts the central importance of landscape and nature in our cultural life. His first full collection, Gall, was published by The Rialto in 2018 and was winner of the 2018 East Anglian Book Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Prize in 2019.