Did the title tap memories of feelings so right
they moved your heart higher than a soaring kite?
Did you imagine yourself in a meadow so bright
the colors would bind you in endless delight
while wandering waterbirds dance and excite
You? Did you assume serenity would land your sight
on a monarch butterfly caught in mid-flight
while skimming and skipping over lakes so lightly,
ephemeral motion, in stillness made mightily
calm, profoundly full of meaning and insight?
You suppose wrong; the title’s not a typo.
Stepping out of the church’s front door —
in a fog of solemn sorrow and ire
after a troubling memorial service
for a troubled sister who had left me
hurt, angry, too soon, and unresolved —
I glimpsed a butterfly wing on the sidewalk
just before my next step would crush it
I froze in thought, “Oh, Butterfly!
Where have you gone?”
And remembered my much admired beloved sister.
I spoke to the missing piece,
“Are you still flying on one wing?”
And remembered my enigmatic, wounded sister.
My mind’s eye created instant poetry:
“Did some jealous god capture you
to rip your wing
from your frail body
then spirited you away
and left you forsaken
far from your wing
To seal the separation?”
And remembered my fiercely gifted sister.
(Oh, my sister!
No one ever – before or since –
so close to me
so far apart.)
All in a fleeting moment
I stooped to gather up the wing —
ignoring voices speaking comfort,
hugs seeking to console me
with joys in their memory of her.
Rejecting those useless cares,
while remembering them kindly.
I tucked their memories and my wing
between two pages of eulogy
and took them home with me
to wash myself in all the unshed tears
drowning me in despair.
They’re still here – the memories and the wing —
on the wooden box that holds her ashes.
On that otherwise empty bookshelf
The dust covers happy memories
And she (oh, butterfly!) looks so forlorn;
in my dreams she’s flying.
In her life I dreamed I could make her whole again;
she would not land long enough to let me.
When I saw a craft vendor tossing away
a wooden dragonfly with one wing missing,
I offered to buy it; we bargained for two:
one whole and the other I wanted.
I keep the dragonflies on the ashes box,
placing the butterfly wing
where the dragonfly’s is missing.
The dragonflies stay still.
But every now and then
Is it trying to fly? —
Once the wing fell and was lost
I recovered it
while dusting behind the box.
Sometimes I forget the whole one;
even when it’s there, I don’t see.
I allow the sight of the wounded one —
and the wing — to haunt me,
knowing the butterfly will never be whole
but hoping to one day reach
Solace and Resolution.
maybe I began this wrong.
Perhaps, after all,
this will be
about finding serenity
while watching a butterfly, a wing.