If I held out an arm, eventually one would land on it and petal me into stillness

It was high summer and there were hundreds of butterflies in there. I had stood and watched them gather, like living jewels, around a table of fruits, amazed at the way the tiny croziers of their tongues would uncurl and drink from the nectar of the oranges. The air was thick with them, spiraling as though played by little flurries of wind. If I held out an arm, eventually one would land on it and petal me into stillness. I loved to see how they mimicked the forms of the world on their wings – an ocellus, or the pattern of snake-print, all their gorgeous subterfuge. I had always wanted to be decorated like that, to hold out an arm and to have all the beauty of the world land on it, and make me beautiful, too.

—  Seán Hewitt, All Down Darkness Wide: A Memoir (Penguin Publishing, July 12, 2022)


Photo: DK – Monarch Butterfly. July 31, 2022. Backyard.

you breathed in peace…we seldom know what is irreplaceable

 


Notes:

  • Post title: “I can tell you that your eyes were at rest / As the momentous world moved beyond you, / And that you breathed in peace that quarter hour. / We seldom know what is irreplaceable. ~ Glen Coe, from “While You Slept” (via The Hammock Papers)
  • Butterfly gif via poppins-me

Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

A butterfly,

pinked by the hour, lands on a blade of sweetgrass,

then flits off.

The blade twitches once, then stills.

Ocean Vuong, from his new book titled: “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel” (Penguin Press, June 4, 2019)

 


Photo Josephine Cardin with “Butterfly” by (via Newthom)

And then the butterfly rose, weightless, in the wind

The butterfly’s loping flight
carries it through the country of the leaves…
for long delicious moments it is perfect
lazy, riding motionless in the breeze on the soft stalk
of some ordinary flower…
One or two things are all you need
to travel over the blue pond…
some deep
memory of pleasure, some cutting
knowledge of pain…
For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then
the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“don’t love your life
too much,” it said,
and vanished into the world.

~Mary Oliver, from “One or Two Things” in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver 


Notes: Poem – Thank you Make Believe Boutique. Photo: Photomarc by Marc Gijsbers

Lightly child, lightly.

For the flight of a single butterfly
the entire sky is needed.

~ Paul Claudel,  1868 – 1955, French poet and dramatist.


Notes:

  • Photo Source: My Modern Met. France-based street artist Mantra transforms multi-story buildings into gigantic butterfly specimen cases in a series of clever, trick-of-the-eye 3D murals. The enormous, hyper-realistic butterflies appear to be set within wooden-framed boxes, recessed into the side of each building. Long shadows and subtle details, which suggest a transparent glass surface, create a convincing level of depth that helps to enforce the head-turning optical illusions.
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Lightly Child, Lightly.

Inevitably alchemy, the lesser into the greater,
morphing to the pupa stage, the chrysalis,
but faster, the cuticle of skin sloughed off,
regrown, and shed again, each larval, instar
meta phase passing through more molting lives
than saints — five, six times before the final birth,
then into the light, like eyes wadded up, then slowly,
with the blood, wings opening. Opening and closing.

Stanley Plumly, from “Butterflies,” Old Heart: Poems.


Notes:

  • Quote: Vale of Soul Making.  Photo: Brooke Shaden with Season Changing
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

 

Saturday Morning. Call it Rest.

azure-butterfly-hand

 

Call it Rest. I sit on one of the branches. My idleness suits me. I am content. I have built my house. The blue butterflies, called azures, twinkle up from the secret place where they have been waiting. In their small blue dresses they float among the branches, they come close to me, one rests for a moment on my wrist. They do not recognize me as anything very different from this enfoldment of leaves, this wind-roarer, this wooden palace lying down, now, upon the earth, like anything heavy, and happy, and full of sunlight, and half asleep.

~ Mary Oliver, from “Building The House” in Upstream: Selected Essays

 


Photo: Shmoo Shots with A Visit from the Spirit of a Lost Friend. “Summer Azure butterfly which landed on my left wrist and stayed and stayed and stayed while I balanced the camera and took photos with my right hand.”

Monday Morning: Echo, echo, echo…

mem52

I want to write a poem
as simple as a glass of water
or as a piece of bread abandoned
on the table by a child
A poem transparent like a window
light like a winged ingot of lead and
yet heavy like butterflies among city lorries
A poem wrought of invisible words
Whose echo is heard for some hundreds of years
Murmuring like a river, forever.

Stefan Baciu, “Stylus,” trans. Robert Austerlitz, Poetry Northwest


Notes: Poem Source: Memory’s Landscape.  Photo: philippe conquet with mem 52

 

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

photograph-butterfly-butterflies-hand,

Good. Now here’s what poetry can do.

Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There’s an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You’re beautiful for as long as you live.

~ Stephen Dunn, from Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry (1966)

 


Notes:

  • Post inspired by: “Butterflies are not insects,’ Captain John Sterling said soberly. ‘They are self-propelled flowers.” from Robert A. Heinlein, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls. Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels.
  • And inspired by ZME Science: “The caterpillar’s  metamorphosis from a tree clinging, 12-legged pest into the majestic flying butterfly is one of the most used metaphors to describe a 180 transformation. It’s truly a fantastic mechanism developed by nature, yet while all my seem fantastic on the outside, this transformation looks pretty gruesome deep inside the chrysalis. In short, for a caterpillar to turn into a butterfly it digests itself using enzymes triggered by hormones, before sleeping cells similar to stem cells grow into the body parts of the future butterfly.”
  • Stephen Dunn Poem excerpt from The Vale of Soul-Making
  • Photo from We Heart It

 

 

The Poweshiek Skipperling

skipperling-butterfly-extinction

Consider the Poweshiek skipperling (Oarisma poweshiek). Most people don’t. It has few Facebook friends or people crying out to ‘Save the Skipperling’. Yet the skipperling is now one of the most rapidly declining animals in North America…skipperlings appear to have blinked out from 96 per cent of their prairie sites in a range stretching from Manitoba to Michigan. This elegant animal, dying out on our own continent, might be more imperiled than pandas or lions. And you’ve probably never heard of it. The Poweshiek skipperling is a butterfly.

As best I can tell, I’ve never witnessed extinction. Never have I known a plant or animal, only to see it vanish forever from Earth. The Poweshiek skipperling could become my first. Few of us know this kind of loss. It does not compare with the death of a friend or a family member. That is absolute and visceral loss. Nor is the loss of the skipperling quite like the closing of our favourite coffee joint. That is tolerable loss. A park might become a shopping mall. We lost Jimi Hendrix but not his music. These are losses – but they are not extinction…

I’ve met the Poweshiek skipperling in the prairie. If this species goes extinct, I will mourn it…Once the skipperling heads to oblivion, I will have only the memory of spending the afternoon of 13 July 2003, in a prairie fen in Michigan, on my knees and on my belly with this tiny orange butterfly.

~ Bryan Pfeiffer, in an excerpt from Ghosts and Tiny Treasures


Notes: Photograph: Skippering Butterfly by Bryan Pfeiffer

 

the butterfly that sits softly on our shoulder

photography-butterfly-portrait-shoulder

NY Times: Are the Best Things in Life Free?

Coco Chanel is reputed to have said, “The best things in life are free. The second-best things are very, very expensive.” Below, Richard Hell, Yanis Varoufakis, Karl Lagerfeld, Mikhail Prokhorov, Youssou N’Dour, Andreja Pejic and Yao Chen tell us about their favorite things, and contemplate why most of us are so rarely satisfied with sunshine, love and the stars above.

Richard Hell (American Singer, songwriter, writer): “…I’ve learned that once you get what you want, you will just want either a greater amount of it, or you will want something else. The best thing to have is a vocation — to like doing something rather than having something. Because then the wanting more is just about wanting to be able to do it better, and that actually pays off…”

Yanis Varoufakis ( a politician, an academic economist and Greece’s former finance minister):  …In the 19th century, some American journals published this definition: “Happiness is like a butterfly, which when pursued seems always just beyond your grasp; but if you sit down quietly, may light upon you.” Ceasing this materialistic pursuit costs nothing at all! If the pursuit of happiness is condemned to be self-defeating, what should our guide be? The optimist in me believes that there is something innate in humans that, like the mechanism that prompts sunflowers to follow the sun across the sky, can help unleash our creative side. For the hell of it. With happiness the unintended byproduct, the butterfly that sits softly on our shoulder…Alas, the Sirens of daily toil can distract us and turn us into consumers who like what they buy, buy what they think they like, and end up bored and dissatisfied — permanently unable to specify the nature of their discontent and living confirmations of Mark Twain’s point about the “limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessities.”

Yao Chen (Chinese Actress and Activist): “…The best things in life really are free. They are indispensable and always with us, like air, sunlight and water. We pay them little attention, taking them for granted. Only when you are about to lose something — when your eyesight goes dim, your health begins to fade or the natural resources you rely upon grow scarce or are polluted — do you start to realize how precious it was…”

Don’t miss entire article: Are the Best Things in Life Free?


Photograph: O My Enemy

So it has come to this

black-butterfly-portrait

So it has come to this
insomnia at 3:15 A.M., 
the clock tolling its engine 
[…]
All night dark wings 
flopping in my heart. 
Each an ambition bird
[…]

Anne Sexton, The Ambition Bird, The Complete Poems, Anne Sexton


Notes: Poem Source – Didier Leclair.  Photo: Pause Between Thoughts

How else, indeed

red-butterfly-butterflies-painting-art-Hermann-Teuber

It is necessary to write,
if the days are not to slip emptily by.
How else, indeed,
to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?
For the moment passes, it is forgotten;
the mood is gone; life itself is gone.

~ Vita Sackville-West, Selected Writings


Sources: Poem Source:Schonwiener. Painting by Hermann Teuber, Red Butterflies, (1959) (via Journal of a Nobody)

Lightly Child, Lightly

butterfly-hand-black-and-white

There were days
when we could catch light
in a butterfly net.

~ Richard Jackson, from “That’s What I’m Talking About,” Resonance: Poems


Notes:

  • Image Source: Journal of a Nobody. Poem: Memory’s Landscape
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”

Walking Cross Town. In Slow Motion.

blue-morpho-butterfly

Thursday morning.
First train arrives at Grand Central at 5:55 am.
I twist ear buds in.
Turn volume up.
And set the playlist.
Noise cancelling headphones block the outside.
David Gray fills the inside.
Magic.

Commuters stage left, and right, and front, and back.
A teeming shoal of barracuda jockeying for position for the exits.

While I was watching you did a slow dance.

We edge forward through the tunnel.
Down the stairs.
And a hard left up the corridor for the Madison exit.

Life in slow motion somehow it don’t feel real.

Up escalator.
I lean into left lane. Speed lane.
She’s up and in front.
A Barracuda presses from behind, and three behind him. [Read more…]

Lightly child, lightly

butterfly-finger

cautiously, I allowed
myself to feel good
at times.
I found moments of
peace in cheap
rooms
just staring at the
knobs of some
dresser
or listening to the
rain in the
dark.
the less i needed
the better i
felt.

~ Charles Bukowski, Let It Enfold You


Notes:

  • Post Title & Inspiration: Aldous Huxley: “It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them.”
  • Prior “Lightly child, lightly” Posts? Connect here.
  • Credits: Photo – jaimejustelaphoto. Poem: famouspoetsandpoems

 

Lightly child, lightly

butterfly-gif-color


Credits:

 

There is only one way to live your life. It’s all a miracle.

monarch-butterfly

The butterfly’s brain,
the size of a grain of salt,
guides her to Mexico.

~ Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry


Notes: Photo Source: nathab.com. Poem Source: Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry. Post title inspired by Albert Einstein’s quote: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Morning Meditation

butterfly-gif

In a life properly lived, you’re a river. You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it…

~ Jim Harrison

 


Source: Thank you THISISEVERYTHING

You can never have too much sky

blue-colors

You can never have too much sky.
You can fall asleep
and wake up drunk on sky,
and sky can keep you safe when you are sad.
Here there is too much sadness
and not enough sky.
Butterflies are too few
and so are flowers
and most things that are beautiful.
Still we take what we can get and make the best of it.

— Sandra Cisneros


Credits: Image – A Poet Reflects. Poem: Stalwart Reader from The House on Mango Street


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