I found this butterfly along Redtail Lake in the Rabbitbrush. It reminded me of a poem I wrote a long while ago on my own small family’s migration. Believe it or not, it won the 2011 Writers Digest Non-rhyming poetry competition, my thousand dollar poem … a poem I treasure, regardless.
At Monterey Aquarium, we watched mackerel
school where light refracted the world over our heads—
sky, people, that brooding mimetic moon—bent
impossibly over the silver minions, their shifting
music we couldn’t hear, their long silent rhythm, form
shifting into formlessness, the way you do now,
your face flushed with the boy’s mouth until I can barely
touch you as I once did, my loneliness no longer allowed
to break like water against the frail vessel of you.
There is no justification in this, as in the way starlings leave
the long darkness of our fall, buoyed in the lifting
wings of each other beneath the stars’ compass,
our yellow cottonwood speaking the language of wind
between us and this leaving until their shadow that finally
is the fall breaks over us. So long now, since I touched
the braille of your skin, the late moon keening her vowels
through that early window. Human frailty, I think, loving
that naming of you without the tongue, your body —
shadow light shadow —
already breaking across my hands into nothing that stays.