Butterfly Omens

I remember the first omen

August in St. Augustine

We sat at the tiki bar, sipping pina coladas

It was the end of our honeymoon

The bartender said, “Wow, you’re a beautiful couple

You’ll surely make beautiful babies”

The monarch fluttered between us

Ending those days under the sun

We carved giant tortoises in the sand


I left you and took a backpack to Harlem

The inevitability of change

The opening of infinite possibility

Rolled off the tongue like sticky taffy

“Careful, dear, don’t choke”

The monarch stuck to a passing bus

“It’s an omen”

We pointed sinful fingers into the sky


I sit in the jungle depths

Butterflies are everywhere

Every shape, every color

A little one follows me on a muddy path through the thick undergrowth

She stops and rests with folded wings like a closed book

“Please” I plead, “Show me your face”

But the secrets she keeps hidden in those florescent folds

Remain possessed by the cheese-puff-colored imagination


I remember a story

Of a boy who walked into the jungle

On the same muddy path

He hacked at low-hanging bamboo and leaves the size of couch cushions with his mighty stick

Suddenly a giant creature leapt from the shadowy brambles onto the path

The boy defensively raised his stick as the beast turned and hissed

The dragon moved slow and heavy

Two jungle kings stared each other down

The boy squinted his baby blue eyes, lunged forward and pierced the lizard in the belly with his stick

That was the day my love killed the chameleon

A thousand butterflies erupted from the belly of the beast


One day, the boy took me into the jungle

He showed me how to walk across a slippery log, high above the creek

He showed me how to stretch my lungs and find my soul floating under the water’s silky surface

He brought the jungle into our home

And I painted butterflies all over the walls

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