Candy Box

Box of Chocolates, Photo by Monique Carrati from Unsplash

Candy Box

A gold foil candy box

was my treasure chest;

candy was a sweet gift,

but the box was the best!

I filled it with love letters

and treasured photos

collected over a period

of five years or so.

I carried the box around

for more than fifty years.

This year, the box fell apart,

and I didn’t shed any tears.

I looked at the photos,

read the letters once more,

put them all in the trash,

and walked out the door.

We moved to our new house,

vowing we’d never move again.

Memories fade, but the photos

and letters are burned on my brain.

I remember a boy with slicked-back

hair and a crooked grin

and a handsome football player

who wanted me to marry him.

Then there was a fearless boy

who helped me learn to drive

and several others who

passed through my life.

I put the box away

when I married at eighteen…

and now the mementos are gone,

but the memories remain.


Copyright 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Everglades Gossip

Roseate Spoonbills, Photo by Julia Craice from Unsplash

Everglades Gossip

A roseate spoonbill was overheard to say,

“You’ll never guess who I saw today!

Gone from the Everglades for a hundred years,

flamingos have settled not far from here.”

Roseate Spoonbill by Joshua J Cotten from Unsplash

The second spoonbill said, “It will be nice, I think,

having neighbors who also like to wear pink.

Maybe they won’t brag that their legs are longer,

or argue that their beaks are stronger.”

Roseate Spoonbill by Joshua J Cotten from Unsplash

“We will have to be tactful and kind,”

said the first spoonbill, “and pay no mind

to flamingos’ skinny necks and feathery heads.

Some things are better left unsaid.”

“We have a lot in common. Let’s focus on that,”

said the second spoonbill. “We’ll have a chat

with our new neighbors. I think it will be good

to welcome flamingos back to the neighborhood.”

Flamingos, Photo by Dennis Eusebio from Unsplash

Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals II

Environmentally-themed book series for readers aged eight to twelve


Copyright 2018 by Cheryl Batavia

I Heard Your Name

Woman Floating in the Ocean, Photo by Jeremy Bishop from Unsplash

I Heard Your Name

I walked through surf,

heart pounding,

blood rushing,

and I thought of you.

The sun warmed me,

cheered me,

and sparkled on the water,

and I saw your smile.

The sea held me,

rocked me, and

gently stroked my face,

and I felt your touch.

The breeze and

the seabirds and

the little waves spoke to me,

and I heard your name.

Reprinted from Wonders


Copyright 2018 by Cheryl Batavia

Morning Walk

Florida Woods, Photo by Cheryl Batavia


Morning Walk

On a humid August morning,

heading out the door,

I am greeted by the sweet fragrance

of cabbage palms in bloom.

Long strands of Spanish moss,

gracefully draping oak trees

and swaying in the breeze,

glimmer silver in the sunshine.

Vulture, Photo by Mark Boos from Unsplash

High above the trees,

vultures glide magnificently

beneath a fading slice of moon,

pale against an azure sky.

Moon, photo by Rustell Mania from Unsplash

Cicadas sing ubiquitously.

I pause to rest in the shade

of a sprawling oak tree;

the cicada chorus is deafening here!

I pass a sandy clearing

where gopher tortoises

like to sun themselves…

They seem to be in their burrows today.

Photo of black-eyed-susan by Cheryl Batavia

Some wildflowers are still blooming,

scattered along the edge of the woods…

my favorite black-eyed-susans

and some bright gold coreopsis.

Beauty berries, tiny green spheres

clustered along the branches,

are ripening to a vivid magenta,

a favorite food of birds.

Gulf Fritillary Buterfly, Photo by Jonathan Borba from Unsplash

Gulf Fritillary butterflies,

orange against the green,

flutter along the quiet street

as I head for home.


Copyright 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Transitions

Rain Clouds by Didgeman from Pixabay

Transitions

As vapor in clouds

condenses and turns to rain,

so may I adapt.

Dandelion Seeds in Flight, Photo by Bruno from Pixabay

As wind carries seeds

to faraway locations,

let me move forward.

Sprouts, Photo by Alina Kuptsova from Pixabay

As soil welcomes seeds,

may my mind be receptive

to new ideas.

May sunshine relentlessly

enlighten me, mind and soul!


Copyright 2020 by Cheryl Batavia

Netting in Lemon Bay

Left to Right: Gulf of Mexico, Manasota Key, Lemon Bay. Photo by Jin from Adobe Stock

Netting in Lemon Bay

For several hours that morning, in blazing sun,

our group waded in the knee-deep muck

of Lemon Bay, netting sea creatures

and collecting them in pails. Then we gathered

on shore with the naturalist to observe and

discuss the animals we had found:

juvenile flounder, shrimp, tiny crabs…

I left a bit early because I had a lunch date

with a man who lived nearby.

We had been communicating on Plenty of Fish

and were meeting for the first time.

Woops! There were no showers at the park!

I cleaned up the best I could with a wet towel.

Still sweaty on top and muddy on the bottom,

I went to meet my date at Chili’s.

We met in the parking lot with a hug

and a kiss on the cheek, not my usual handshake.

We talked for two hours over chicken fajitas.

Time flew by! I felt I had known him forever!

…That’s how I met my soul mate!

Reprinted from Life in Inspiring Places


Copyright 2019 by Cheryl Batavia


Robert and I have been together for six very happy years since that meeting at Chili’s. I was sixty-five, and he was sixty-six when we met. My husband had been dead for over twelve years before I started dating, and I had nearly given up on ever finding a soul mate… someone with whom I have so much in common!

Hanging Out with Stingrays

Naples, Florida Pier, Photo by Bailey Rapp from Unsplash

Hanging Out with Stingrays

I was visiting the pelicans on Naples Pier;

the sun was bright, and the water was clear,

I saw a school of stingrays far below,

swimming in The Gulf of Mexico.

Stingrays are flat fish with “wings”

and long, skinny tails with barbs that sting.

Swimming in schools, they stir up sand

to find their dinner of oysters and clams.

Stingray, Photo by Fernando Jorge from Unsplash

I wanted to join the rays…what a fun thing to do!

“Don’t step on them, and they won’t sting you,”

a nearby fisherman advised.

“Shuffle your feet and they’ll move aside.”

I shuffled my feet, and I stayed with the rays

’till the sun was setting at the end of the day.

Hanging out with stingrays was a lot of fun…

I was tired and sunburned, but I didn’t get stung.

Stingray Swimming, Photo by Jakob Owens from Unsplash

I learned that serious injury from stingrays is rare,

but incidents sometimes do occur.

Although I won’t overreact if I encounter a stingray,

I won’t wade with schools of rays like I did that day.

Stingrays in touch tanks have their barbs removed.

Some stingray encounters are sting-free too.

Stingrays enjoy being petted and like to play.

I’d hang out with stingrays at aquariums any day!

Reprinted from Hanging Out with Wild Animals III

Environmentally-themed book series for ages eight to twelve


Copyright 2019 by Cheryl Batavia

How I Won the Great Snail Race of Miami-Dade County

Photo by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

How I Won the Great Snail Race of Miami-Dade County

(with sincere apologies to Mark Twain)

In the middle of a snail population explosion,

inspired by Mark Twain’s short story,

“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of

Calaveras County,” we planned a snail race.

We thought snail races would be more fun

than frog races…longer to cheer,

longer to observe snail behavior,

and longer to shoot a snail video.

Calaveras County frogs get only three jumps…

Snails take their own sweet time

Photo by Tanika from Unsplash

Keesha’s strategy to win the race

was to choose the largest snail.

Seth just wanted to shoot a snail video

and win an award at the county fair.

Jo planned to lure her snail with lettuce.

Photo by Lajos Moricz from Pixabay

Clarence thought his snail would win

if he cheered louder than anybody else.

Clarence didn’t know snails can’t hear.

My strategy was to learn a lot about snails.

I did research. I drew a diagram and

labeled the shell, the foot, and the eye stalks.

I studied hard so I could pick the best snail;

I was sure my snail, Speedy, would win!

On the day of the snail race, we drew

two concentric circles on the tile floor.

Keesha had chosen a gigantic snail.

Jo had her lettuce ready.

We all put our snails in the center circle.

The first snail to leave the outer circle

would win the race. “Go, Speedy!” I whispered.

Photo by Nika Akin from Pexels

Seth had just started videoing the race

when Clarence began to cheer.

Even though snails don’t have ears

and can’t hear, they feel

sound wave vibrations

with their lower tentacles…

All the snails retreated into their shells!

“Shhh! we told Clarence.

Speedy came out of his shell first.

Keesha’s giant snail had decided

never to come out again!

Jo’s snail was moving very slowly

away from the lettuce, leaving a slime trail

as it crawled into the outer circle.

Photo by Gene Pensiero from Unsplash

Speedy certainly was fast, but he

couldn’t seem to move in a straight line;

he careened aimlessly around the outer circle,

leaving little silvery squiggles behind him.

Jo’s snail was about to cross the finish line.

Clarence couldn’t keep still any longer

and began cheering again for his snail.

Jo’s snail stopped immediately, just inside

the outer circle, and pulled into its shell.

Speedy was so smart, he finally wandered

outside the circle and won the race.

If you don’t believe me, you can watch

Seth’s video at the county fair.

Photo by cablemarder from Pixabay

After the race, we released the snails

far away from vegetable gardens.

Keesha’s giant snail finally came out of its shell.

Clarence apologized for making noise.

We washed the snail slime off our hands

and enjoyed an ice cream party

to celebrate Speedy’s big win.

Maybe someday, I’ll write a story,

“Speedy, the Celebrated Racing Snail

of Miami-Dade County!”


Copyright 2020 by Cheryl Batavia


Inspired by a snail race in a sixth grade science class I taught in Miami. I am considering adding illustrations and developing this into a book for young readers, ages eight to twelve.