Papillons en liberté
–Montreal Botanical Gardens, May 2014
My wife of these thirty-odd short years
(why can’t there be thirty more?) and I
look down on a riffled pool
that forms from a man-made flume and shines
under man-made greenhouse light. These butterflies
have hatched in all their many scores.
We watch them dip and rise among
bright, quick-bursting bubbles.
Spring blooms surround us in pent profusion.
We smile to recall the words of her sister’s son,
now far from the small blond child who spoke them:
Do butterfries fry good? he asked me.
We repeat the cute question as one.
In the wild some of them “fry” 3000 miles.
I know that’s true, but almost think it can’t be:
They’re swept off-course by the paltry air
stirred by their visitors’ ahs and oohs.
Still I know it won’t do, the trite equation
of frail and lovely. They’re tough. It must
be fleetingness that floors me. That’s what shows.
I’ve learned some names today: blue morpho,
and you, rice paper, all but translucent,
and postman, you, whose very name
now sounds so quaint, so obsolescent.
Hello-goodbye. Nice to have met you.