Butterfly

When Persephone stopped playing outside
sometimes you’d catch a spectral
glimpse of her through the window,
waving at her mother gardening.

One summer, her mother found
a dead red admiral on the path.
It was a mere slip of a thing;
and it must have just expired

fluttering from flower to flower
unfettered in the lonely garden.
The mother put it in a matchbox
which she guarded with her life.

Every year she thought of
new ways to dispose of it;
to set it free through flames
or simply in the act of letting go.

Of course it was magical thinking,
to imagine a ritual
that could heal the heart.
Never was a butterfly so heavy.

After Beatrice (verses i-iii, vi & X. First pub. by Obsessed With Pipework #86)

i

The rose beds
I recalled had gone –
instead you could discern
their remnant outlines;
verdant and sad
as unmarked graves.

ii
Not knowing what to do
I rested here, among
the bees and daisies
woven in the grass;
until the afternoon
was long in tooth.

iii
Venus had veered south
when I was roused,
to find a figure
standing by my side.
She asked if I was ready
– Yes, I lied.

vi
Red buds amassed
and gently bled,
like bleeding hearts
on arching stems:
These, I was told
were manifold regrets.

x
My love is sweet
as rowan berries
after the first frost;
but there is no way
in or out, until
you believe in one.

The full poem is also available to read in my pamphlet, Wish (Maytree Press)