By Kika Dorsey
They flutter at the edge of my vision.
There are butterflies as small as a coin
and as big as a man's hand, of every
color one can imagine.
Some have owl eyes on the inside of their
wings to fool their predators.
My daughter reaches out to touch them.
I want to touch one, she says, but
a sign says that the oil on our skin can kill them.
I watch my daughter, my butterfly,
her delicate hands, her lush mouth
and I think of predators, how I wish
she had owl eyes painted on her wings
to scare them away, or a poison at the
touch of her flesh.
She points to a purple one and smiles.
Purple is her favorite color.
We leave the pavilion.
Another sign says to watch out
for hitchhiking butterflies
and I close the door quickly,
check my and my children's clothes.
I'm relieved to find none,
because I know what it¹s like to not
have a sanctuary, to be out in the cold
and feel oneself dying, wings molting one
into a different creature, one that breaks the hips
to give birth, one that carries the weight of babies.
My daughter is still a butterfly and all I can do
is keep her warm until the day she comes out
into the cold, her wings trembling like
the eyes of someone dreaming.
Writer Kika Dorsey, of Boulder, Colorado, has had her poetry published in numerous journals and books, including Anyone is Possible; Coffeehouse Poetry: An Anthology; Between the Lines; The Denver Quarterly and The California Quarterly. She holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of
Washington in Seattle and has taught writing, film, and literature at the University of Washington and the University of Colorado in Boulder.