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Blue Morphos

December 21, 2007

This summer morning, two languorous butterflies suckled
the hummingbird feeder; wings unfolded and folded now

and then as if they dreamed they were flying, the way
a dog asleep in a sunny spot of yard runs a meadow.

Where does a butterfly sail in her red nectar reverie?
I have seen them exult in the winds of the Caribbean;

sheer wings glisten with sea spray, tremble in currents
with that wild insect certainty that inspired Icarus.

On the road to Cobá, they drifted in clouds like spring
sun motes swirling before the windshield, slight and pale

Mexican Yellows, Orange Fritillaries; iridescent Morphos
imbricate paths in my memory through crumbling ruins.

That day we couldn’t move for fear of crushing them;
tiptoeing across a quivering sea of shimmering wings,

we urged them to fly: what could they be thinking?
Suicide, to sojourn in the parking lot of a tourist stop.

I thought of my grandmother’s tray, gift from a traveling
relative, fine wood framing amputated wings—

dust to dust under glass, keepsake of a time when
someone flew over an ocean, someone wingless arrived home.

by Katherine Durham Oldmixon

Audio production by Arturo Lomas Garza
Download the MP3

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  1. Nancy Durham
    December 21, 2007 at 10:35 am

    The butterflies on the tray are blue ones like the Morphidae one pictured below Katherine’s wonderful poem. That tray always made me feel a bit sad even as I admired the beauty of the wood and the butterfly wings.

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