Saturday, October 23, 2010

Requiem for a Butterfly

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

troubled mind,

-- a gun is raised

by a four year old hand

and fired…..

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

dries up

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

then opens

then 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

---- helplessly

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

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