It’s the fourth generation that knows the way
to the Oyamel forests of Mexico
buoyed by instinct, air currents, the sun and
the magnetic poles of the Earth.
It’s the fourth generation
that lives three to four times longer
-- as long as the milkweed lasts
-- as long as the flowers can bloom through
the increasing heat of the summer
-- as long as they can find one another on their journey south.
It’s the fourth generation that bears the weight,
less than one gram,
on golden wings
over 2000 miles.
My friend’s journey was less
than one mile
from the parking lot to his apartment
born by his youth and strong legs
pushing the pedals
of his geared up bicycle
that lay undamaged where it fell
beside his barely bruised body
beside his broken skull
outside his swelling, bleeding brain.
In Indianapolis a gun lying on a table
amidst drugs that pull at the
-- a gun is raised
by a four year old hand
A three year old sister dies.
Journeys to old age,
to the fourth generation
are interrupted, paused, or abruptly ended
by all five cumbersome ways to kill a man
-- or a woman
-- or a child
the milkweed disappears,
the sun shines too hotly,
too many days in a row
and the nectar for the journey
before it can reach the mouths of the first generation.
And sometimes it is just the blush of being alive
that kills us.
Somewhere dignity blinks
a child hesitates then steps forward
into the path of a bullet --
A door closes
and the world has changed
completely in Indianapolis –
for my friend—
and the sun rises on the
same blue planet.
Somewhere in September some God
and the butterfly,
the giant fourth generation monarch
cascades into my windshield
wings pinned to the wipers flutter
and shred into the sunlight
leaving a golden smear
of life’s dust.
“all five cumbersome ways to kill a man” is a reference to Edwin Brock’s Five Ways to Kill a Man