Tempest Song: Butterflies

I have launch’d forth from the cliff – Emma Tatham

At the house where I teach my private student, we push
the squeaky glass door to watch the monarchs billowing.
Thousands, no, millions flail in the blossoms,
pink and orange lifebuoys.

Before she can say she wants to help them,
I am practically on my knees. A gentle loop and cave. Should I teach
her to praise this huffy cloud of mottled pinwheels? See them beg
with their dissembling eyes.

In shorts and flipflops, she stands riveted. I say
this is an audition — for her, of course.
She smiles at this idea, petulant preteen, augurer of stars,
she has been chosen.

Using her lawn as emergency landing strip, is it their sheer
numbers that amaze? Were they hungry on the Arabian Peninsula?
Data leaking out of there do not exactly still
us. Gosh, look at that hottie!

What we’re dealing with is the super generation, the childless
ones that’ll survive winter. I glare at the setae, black bullet
points stacked for a domino loop. The roll-down
of their proboscises is their game time.

Like her own, my student thinks their gluttony natural.
Sated with nectar, a flap, and they’re dwindling.
The garden flops. The show is over. She turns
inside to her laptop.

-Jacqueline Schaalje


Jacqueline Schaalje has published stories and poetry in the Massachusetts Review, Talking Writing, Frontier Poetry, Grist, among others. Her stories were finalists for the Epiphany Prize and in the New Guard Competition. https://englishwithasmile.org/jacqueline-schaalje-author-page/