I said you, you, until my tongue curled up.
You the delectable pair of antennae,
bright shard
of a tortoise shell
& I in my mourning cloak,
waiting all winter in the form of a dead leaf.
When the warm weather came it didn’t stay,
the new leaves were roused out of their buds
& punished by frost after frost.

The spring ephemerals held
a solid month: foam flower, hepatica,
bloodroot, Solomon’s seal.
Clouds of pollen filmed our mirrored glasses.
At length the hotter sun conspired
with the encroaching shade
to do away with indeterminacy:
lost spot where we used to meet,
where our tastes now & again overlapped.

Our fling was a blink, a flaw
to catch the light, each
unpredictable step
a pirouette. But who was watching?
The world thrills to the mastery of monarchs,
the rakish esprit of swallowtails . . . all
those that glide from bank
to bank of ranker weeds,
those that soar.
So far from you whose genius it is to flit.

Note: Mourning cloak and Compton’s tortoiseshell are the first butterflies to appear in early spring in the northeastern U.S. Both are classed in the brushfoot (Nymphalid) family.


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