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 alive.
Copyright © 2019 Alice Towey.
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.