A hot summer morning shrunk to a butterfly

fingernail-size, landing on my toe, rubbing

its white wings together.

Spreading like a Chinese fan,

it flies away only to return and land

on my arm, pacing on minuscule legs

toward my elbow crease.

I can feel the tickle of its antennae.

How much closer would it dare?

A mosquito would be dead

before it could sip my blood, a fly

brushed away.  But not the delicate,

diminutive butterfly wandering my warm body.

I become Gulliver with a lone Lilliputian

exploring my torso and limbs.

It flutters to my shoulder and rests there

like a good angel.  Surely, it can sense

I am no flower, but a varied topography

fragrant with summer sweat.

Is it this we have in common?  Not size,

shape or structure, but something simple

and elemental.  Call it an itch for what's around

the corner.  Or query Marco Polo,

Amelia Earhart, Galileo.

Claire Keyes has published reviews and poems in The Women's Review of Books, The Georgia Review, Calyx and
Rattle, among  others.  On-line, you can find her work at The Valparaiso Review,, and She has won the Robert Penn Warren Award from New England Writers as well as a
First Prize in poetry from Smartish Pace. The Question of Rapture, a book of poems, was published by Mayapple
Press in 2008.  She teaches in the Lifelong Learning Program at Salem State College.

This poem literally came to me one August morning when I was sitting in the sun, my notebook on my knee.  All I had to do was observe carefully; later, I wrote down what I was seeing and feeling.  Of course, poems are never quite that easy and it took me some more desk-time to shape it into its
current form.  Finishing the poem was more difficult and I struggled with the ending.  What was this butterfly all about anyway?  During the revision process, I went to see the movie "Amelia."   The great aviator was on my mind when I finally managed to get the last few lines.





Copyright 2009