Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dead Butterfly by Ellen Bass

Dead Butterfly 

For months my daughter carried 
a dead monarch in a quart mason jar. 
To and from school in her backpack, 
to her only friend’s house. At the dinner table 
it sat like a guest alongside the pot roast. 
She took it to bed, propped by her pillow.

Was it the year her brother was born? 
Was this her own too-fragile baby 
that had lived—so briefly—in its glassed world? 
Or the year she refused to go to her father’s house? 
Was this the holding-her-breath girl she became there?

This plump child in her rolled-down socks 
I sometimes wanted to haul back inside me 
and carry safe again. What was her fierce 
commitment? I never understood. 
We just lived with the dead winged thing 
as part of her, as part of us, 
weightless in its heavy jar.


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