The Butterfly Garden of Key West

When flighty limbs and leaves—extending
Fronds brush the ocean sand—where
Banana manes ripple colors of rainbow
Coral, unfurling winds, flapping with salt

Called the blue conch flag of Key West.
When the diurnal rains lash, smash,
Slash through the fingers of breadfruit
Leaves, splashing down under dusky

Shades of liana vines and swirling
Fins of slippery fishtail palms above
Turquoise waters—where coconuts
Sweeten milk while spinning up a moon,

Fed by Atlantic fog, and sausage trees
Hang low their manna loaves—where
A flamingo circles the swirling aqua pool
Each morning, stepping into the water, under

Green elephant-ear shade, creating concentric
Circles of water—drawing what we see, the first
concentric mandala—when through the mango
A humid morning’s breeze whirling round

A monarch’s fuselage, colored Bahama
Blue and maroon petals of morning glories
Under lazy clouds of luscious lavender wings,
Hovering above the froth of sunrise waves

To fluff and fly above a garden’s special space—
While a breeze from Havana transforms
The mighty mind-of-winter of Wallace Stevens,
(who often vacationed at La Casa Marina,

Just a block away) into the baroque design
Of another butterfly’s wing, changing navy blue
To aqua green, then to cobalt and burgundy, and
Back again in tumultuous summer-season

Showers, bending palms and fronds, break—
Ing stalks of ginger, thrashed and washed under
Fickle Caribbean skies, which we love but fear.
When sailors watch the flight of the butterfly

That reminds of nature’s power-reach with
Such meticulous design, creating the butterfly
Effect, illustrating, where the hibiscus petal
Extends, then ends—the butterfly’s wing begins.
Poem by Reed Venrick

Reed Venrick, lives in Florida, often visits the Florida Keys.