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Butterflies and Poetry and Winging It

April 6, 2014

I have been pretty inspired over on the Book of Faces by all my poet friends sharing incredible, amazing verse in honor of National Poetry month. It reminds of me of Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things writing her advice to all twentysomethings to go to a bookstore and buy ten volumes of poetry, and when the interviewer asked why she replied “because the truth is in there”. And it is.

It’s kind of nerve wracking for me sharing stuff I write, because I write, but I’m not, like, a WRITER. And poetry, the way I do it, is just a sheer blast of me-ness on to the page without the dancing around and obfuscation of prose. It’s very much me. So in honor of the writing practices I’ve been reading about for this month, here it is–very little proofreading, just got it out on the page in the last hour or so.

It is a sequel to a short poem I wrote when I was 7 months pregnant with Bobo, calling him Butterfly Boy, which now hangs in a frame on his room. So I am cutting and pasting that one, followed by the sequel. It’s long, because the last decade has been long, and the ending is rough, because this isn’t over yet. But there you have it.


Butterfly Boy,  July 10, 2003

We are waiting for you, my butterfly boy.

You drift without time in your lightless cocoon

I feel you roll over, stretch, nudge your wings against my side

They are damp, still folded in the smallest newness

I like to imagine as the days go by our butterfly dreams grow brighter

Drawing you down to the place where you will unfurl into vivid color and learn the song of who you are

We keep watch over your sleeping, we lean down next to you and add our voices to your growing song

Murmuring mamapapa sounds of welcome and love



The Butterfly Effect,  April 6, 2014


And so you fought

Hard and long, out and up

Landing on my chest as a beautiful sodden heap, your wings and eyes still folded tight

You and I both stunned and tired to tears, with barely the time to rest before the next battle


And the next and the next and the next and the next.


But we sang to you, your father and I,

Your grandparents, your aunt and uncle, your chosen family of friends

The teachers and helpers who are wooed by your sparkling

We sing to you still.


And so you came


One wingbeat

Swirling the stars to a different order

Pushing the universe so wide and yet still not big enough to touch the edges of what you did to my heart

“I love you more than every cheese pizza ever made, every SINGLE ONE.”, you slowly said to me last week

And I, the girl with a thousand words in her mouth, could only nod dumbly

Agreeing it seems wise to measure the best love in such careful things


One wingbeat

Ripping its angry blade through the air, searing the wound with confusion and grief

Has knocked me onto the hard floor, on my knees, gasping for breath

Sometimes after a storm you still fold your lanky boy’s body into my lap

Tearstreaked and exhausted again, your fingers quietly tap across my belly

Maybe hoping to find the secret  hollow wall to swing wide and let you back into your cocoon for a while

This world can be so beautiful for you, and so hard.


But you soar on, each day stronger, brighter, higher

You make friends and inventions and the best scrambled eggs

And your butterfly dreams give you giggles in your bunk bedded sleep.

You are full of certainty and joy about the world and your place in its abundance

And your wing winds have changed me too, shearing off walls of cocoons I didn’t know were there

So I could crawl out and feel my wings grow bigger enough to enfold and fly with you.


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One Comment
  1. Shawn permalink

    Ugh…..Love this, and that says a lot since I tend to run from the poetry. LOVE LOVE LOVE…it and you.

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