Saturday, December 23, 2006

One Day

A report from life

Posted by olvlzl

Now, as you read this,
Now, December 23rd
In a kitchen, now in Maine
Now, a butterfly, pale green,
Reflected moonlight in spring,
Eyespots, dark edged wings
Flying against the light.
Which plant harbored it
Three months ago?

Flying in place.
Going nowhere.

Did it know night?
Cold, maybe yearning for farther lights?
The light tube seeming a heart’s end, then.
As close as it will ever be.
But still trying.
If it broke through the glass
Does it imagine
flying into a florescent eternity,
No light being final enough?

No, it grew in the house,
on a plant brought in.

My friend told me that caterpillars didn’t really have brains, only neural ganglia, mocking regrets at killing cabbage worms. Home from her masters program in neural physiology, never tempted to vegetarianism. “You dope”, she said. “You wanted to be a farmer. You know, Bt is the safest way to get rid of them”.

I said that someday aliens could say the same thing about us, evoking Twilight Zone memories. Though, we agreed, the probability of compatible biochemistry making us a delicacy was remote. But a malign species, no question. We would call for strict control if not eradication.

Ah, it’s trying again.
Surely this phototaxis
Is volition
And wanting, striving,
Isn’t that the same thing?
Sara is gone,
I can’t ask her.

What does it eat?
The Coleus?
Wetting my hand, I catch it.
Careful, slow, catching it.
Or rather,
Resting from its pursuit.
It extends its mouth and
there’s something
important enough
to interrupt its attempts at light.

From my body?
Too romantic,
The iron filter makes the water salty.

It stays and puts its coiled
Mouth to my hand finding
Enough on the drying skin.

Resting longer than it seems
likely to find something.
Am I wasting its time?

Then it’s at the tube again.
What if it’s there tomorrow?
It wouldn’t live a minute outside,
It wouldn’t fly in the cold.

What does it mean?
It’s brief life,
enforced chastity,
never breeding,
at the beginning of winter.
Wait a minute?
Do cabbage moths turn green in the cold?
Hum. Sounds like Sara’s idea of a joke.

Wetting my hand again
It feeds and I see
Its green body, hairy and perfect,
What does it’s coming mean?
But why meaning?
What is the concept of
meaning in the Lepidoptera?
A title for a thesis, that.

Maybe it’s reason
Was to be seen.
A gift at solstice tide.
But that seems unfair.
Maybe it’s purpose
Stands apart
From its desires.

Maybe it’s this,
That slow, slow capture
The careful not-holding
A gesture with a wet hand
To nurse this one
That won’t know.
That can’t be known.
It is served,
Kept alive another day,
To wake in the morning
And still be here,
On the window,
To try after light
To see the futility
It can’t know,
To hold a wet hand
To it
Does it matter
When a butterfly
Needs water in December?