Only once in this lifetime have I experienced the sensation of a butterfly settling onto my hand.
I'm sure, as a child, I must have dreamed of such a thing, without ever really expecting it to happen. It was like lying on a hillside, looking up at the clouds, and imagining what it might be like to fly, literally fly, above them ... something to speculate on, but not to be attained.
Then there I was, an adult ... a very tired adult ... sitting on a hillside far from those amid which I did so much of my early dreaming ... and there was a butterfly ... sitting on my hand.
Had I known then what a haiku moment was, I would have declared that to be one. Instead, I simply sat, transfixed, watching, waiting ... and finally squinting to follow its path as it departed.
I suppose some will read into the poem a feeling, not just of the butterfly's departure, but of loss, too. I prefer to think of what I had gained.
And so it has been with the visits of those who stop by to take a look at "Chosen Words."
Then the crowd moves on. There are other journals to visit, to explore, to evaluate and comment on.
It grows quiet here.
If I were to read "Moment" aloud now, I might be the only one listening. But I would savor the words ... I would read them carefully ... and I would recall the heat of that day ... the sun ... that butterfly ... just as I am now looking back on the past several months, savoring the words you have left with me.
As I continue reading your words in the days to come, I will remember ... your thoughtful comments ... the kind things you've said ... and I will think of all I have gained from your visits.
And I thank you for all of that.
Meanwhile, the poem:
The butterfly sits so lightly
on the back of my sunburned
hand that I barely feel
its tiny feet clinging, tongue
tasting the essence of me.
I sit stone-still, watching
as it clings, seeing its tongue
uncurling to taste, feeling
my breathing subsiding
into the rhythm of its wings,
sit savoring the reverie
attending the encounter with this
being that has flown to me
like a tiny fleck of fly ash,
but has chosen me, the most
unlikely of choices, and keeps
sitting here while I consider
whether I might seize it.
Then, as though sensing
my intentions, it lifts lightly
off, flying raggedly, majestically
across the sun-swept field,
perhaps pursuing a search
for someone more worthy,
leaving the weight of absence
pressing my hand.© 1999
(originally published in Vincent Brothers Review)
Today's word: majestically