Overwinter 1920 957 Ren Gay

Paint my eyelids with the powder of butterfly wings.
Without this dusting they cannot fly.
After the smoke came through
the gutters were filled with the twitching bodies of monarchs
and what cruelty to let them drown,
even though the grass is dry
and the dirt cracking.

I gather them by handfuls
bring them inside and use my pocket knife to put the blade
through the brain the same way a chef prepares a lobster
before tossing it into the boiling water.

You have not felt sadness until a butterfly turns itself
inside out before your eyes.
This was supposed to be the briefest
of respite before the flight.

I long to stand in the diminishing forests of Mexico
and watch the trees come to life-
step over the rope and run a finger along the living bark,
watch them become the air before landing again.

It seems like a year since the sun last came out.
Every day the sky is the white of paper
the bluing of a phone screen in the dark
paint the sky any brilliant color other than the expected.

The lamp behind me goes out again and
as I reach to turn the bulb
electricity travels up my arm.
If I hold it there long enough maybe I too will flip inside out,
turn limbs in the way that they should not,
and curl right up on the floor.

I am waiting for a day when the sky is blue.
When the butterflies do not stop.
When all the water in the pot has boiled away
leaving only a rim of salt at the bottom.

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