I was not always a lover of butterflies.
Once I was once a logger, clear cutting these pine
forests like those who later turned against me.
One autumn morning I saw conifers tremble
like a young bride, heard sounds that danced like silk in wind.
I understood then that my job was to save them.
How can such tiny creatures travel three thousand miles?
I queried them as they shivered, shimmied there,
circled around each limb like jeweled bracelets.
For two months, sunshine is their compass as they fly.
They come to rest here in our pines. Skies thicken with orange,
yellow, white, laced with black. My silhouettes of autumn.
No one prayed as hard as me for their safe arrival.
They write their memoirs in these deep woods.
It is their great-grandchildren who will return next year.
Sometimes I stood at the edge of the tree line to listen
to their angel sounds. Each synchronized wing beat calmed me.
It was like heaven, if one believes in such magical thinking.
I felt such sorrow when their arrival began to thin down,
turn translucent, like a memory that fades when we most need
it to be sharp. I craved vivid images of sunlight at rest.
When the end was near, I pleaded for mercy. Not for me.
My expendability was always understood. For my floating
charges whose safety is all we have left as refuge from ourselves.