You must hold the earth gently
like you hold this monarch,
newly emerged from its chrysalis,
as it pauses on your fingertips to flex its wings.
See how it decides all at once—
sweeping open its delicate silks
of black and orange, how it lifts off
and careens through the air.
Not much luck for butterflies. Each year
the news is worse: heat waves
rippling forests into char, brutal highways,
and fields stripped bare of grass and thistle.
One could so easily give up. Stop bringing
the caterpillars indoors to safety. Stop
watering the milkweed in your backyard
with shower remnants from a plastic bucket.
You must find new ways to love,
in contradiction: love the flower
like you discovered it, love the monarch
like you’ll be the last person to see one alive.
Trust in a future where butterflies
still flicker through a garden
to alight on each bright summer blossom,
if you can just keep this generation
Copyright © 2019 Alice Towey.
Image Credit: Depositphotos
Alice Towey is a writer of speculative fiction and poetry based out of Northern California. A graduate of the Viable Paradise workshop, her short fiction will be included in the forthcoming anthology, A Flash of Silver Green: Stories of the Nature of Cities. When she isn’t writing, Towey works as a civil engineer specializing in water resource management.