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.