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:
After a moment of faint respiration,
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.