Portrait of a Broken Wing

On a mid-June afternoon, 
a broken butterfly  
landed on my shoulder. 
She tumbled down from a towering oak, 
weary from flying 
against the dense, summer air. 
One of her wings had been shredded 
by the spring-loaded jaws of a terrier, 
or perhaps a particularly violent rainfall 
shattered her stained-glass wing 
at the joints where the panels meet. 
She stumbled onto my fingertips 
and frantically traced the grooves of my skin 
with her wiry antennae. 
I tasted of lake salt and freshly cut grass,  
I imagine, with the sticky memory  
of the sweet peach tea 
I had enjoyed just moments earlier. 
Her silken wings fluttered softly, like lungs 
preparing to take their final breath: 
inhale, exhale. 
After a moment of faint respiration,  
she froze— 
I pinned her in place, perfectly preserved, 
so that I could examine her undamaged wing. 
From an aerial view, I saw  
what I had only read about before: 
bioluminescent breaking waves crashing 
onto midnight beaches. 
I thought, she must be exhausted  
from carrying the weight of an ocean on her wings. 
But she waved her wings once more 
and flew away.