Butterflies I, II, III

I

 

one lands on the tip of my nose,

another at my lip’s corner and

with the softest flutter of their wings

earthquakes unravel my chest.

cocoons hanging from my ribcage shutter,

caterpillars crawl up my throat,

an attempt to escape the collapse

one inevitable since the metamorphosis

began—  a handful of eggs placed at my heart

by the hand of fate. Crackle

of lightning & the universe’s static

sends them roaring, beating 

against the walls of my stomach, a frenzy

of fear & grief & cracks in the heart,

crevices for beer & wine to slip into,

and confusion, space for high haze,

& dark rooms alone, only me.

corals, persimmons, iridescent

sapphires & indigos pulse through me

when i see him. he says

          they should migrate.

but he’s already clipped their wings.

 

II

 

he holds the jar close to me & i peer in.

the monarch lays lifeless at the bottom,

its body no longer brittle, but relaxed 

by moist cotton & spring scented lysol. 

the sight churns my insides & i feel

cold. he removes the lid, tilts the jar to me

           pinch the thorax gently, then push the pin through.

my hands shake & i wish to cradle, wish

to breathe life back into speckled tangerine.

but pinch, pin slides through, & i place

her next to glasswing, alexandra, adonis.

more pins are dropped in my palm, he

& i work together to smooth wings, attach 

them to greying white mounting board.

when he is satisfied with their positions,

i can see them twitch, uncomfortable,

unsatisfied with the change in winds.

we leave them this way, return later to pluck

out pins & put the rainbow into its shadowbox.

          no more stomach aches. this is for the best.

he musters a smile so i do the same, but glass

catches our reflections & produces palindromes.

migration always happens twice

 

III

 

           do you want to kiss?

the question brushes my ear with surprise.

but then i smile & oblige, once, twice, three times.

before & after this, his lashes meet my cheeks,

& mine brush his. intimacy & warmth clear

away the storm, & heat rushes to my face.

my heart pulls itself back together, pounds

until glass breaks &

           here comes a thought— 

luminescent pulse lands on my shoulder

& my eyes are water-pricked, worry

begins to riddle my ribcage & gut.

i remember how it swarmed inside & out

of me, brought everything to crumble.

           is this how we fall apart?

                     it’s not.

he slips a finger under the legs, the wings

now flutter on him, calmly. he holds it

between us & i remember the pain

& the change & the now. glow lifts 

from digit & we watch it go by. i crumple

in his arms & he squeezes me tight.

           it’s ok, i’m here. i’m here.

our flame ascension reaches its end.

we begin again

 

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