A yellow eastern tiger
swallowtail just fluttered a shy wave.
The first this season, the sighting
plunged me back into high school.
My brothers constructed glossy pine
boxes and stuck careful deadly pins
through the tender thoraxes
of lepidoptera: a great spangled fritillary,
a painted lady, an American copper.
I had enthusiastically pointed them out;
I learned to play much more quietly
in the wood-like setting of my backyard.
I took this moth massacre personally.
In fact, I decided that I was not compatible
with these death seekers. When my time
came, I approached the biology teacher
and adamantly refused to take part.
I offered photographs, even my brothers’
macabre collections instead;
even so I took home my very first “F”.
Proudly, sitting quietly in the butterfly garden
while my mystified family wondered
how I could have passed up the chance
for an easy “A”. And now you tell me that
children are going to court over matters
that I couldn’t see, in my desperation
to belong to the rigid systems intent
on wiping out my connections.
I thought I was daring. My instructor
said I was crazy. And yet
I felt it, in that deep heart-
space. Now I want to proclaim
to every child
— especially the one you hide inside:
rise up, speak out against so-called
sanity while you can. Change your own label
before we all end up in flames
or termite-laden pine boxes,
our destination either way.
The featured image was taken 12 years ago in my butterfly garden. I haven’t seen any Monarchs this season.