In the Garden


This poem tied for third place in the 2021 Clinton F. Larson Poetry Contest, sponsored by BYU Studies.

Tumbling about in nervous flight
still getting the feel for the lift—
      it flutters
   and keeps to shadow
      its blue eyes melting into dark.

Papilio Machaon, after Asclepius’s son,
or swallowtail because of its wings
         like feathers
   all geometry and movement
      the mute beauty of givenness.

Once it crawled on a fennel stalk
gorging on sweet leaves until it
         felt something
   in its own fullness, and outside
      a sputter of wind, a mutter

of movement here in the garden
where once it spun its chrysalis
         like a tomb
   and every part of who it was—
      feet osmeterium spiracles—

and all, disappeared, died, transformed
beyond anything it could have
   the imago with its yellow
      wings, black veins, red-blue

eyes that don’t see or hear but feel
a prayer, a groaning, a plea—
   through its wings, engines of flight
      still slick with emergence.



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