by Liza Rose


right at the brink
between late summer and early fall, they pass
through Pennsylvania— those orange-black wings
among the blue and green. in 2nd grade, we learned
about their life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, adult
(and the unspoken: death). we raised
the striped caterpillars, fed them
milkweed picked from the trail, or the McDonald's flowerbed;
and they grew up
alongside me. then they hung like fat green jewels
from the top of the mesh cage as i learned
about human history— the surface things they tell kids.
the jewel became clear, orange-black wings curled inside
as if saying: look what i will become.
i waited to see.
then one day, there were butterflies flying around
in the mesh cage, searching for sky. 
teacher told us they released them into the world,
told us about their migration, and i watched the videos
of trees alive with what looked like orange flowers.
               now i picture those trees barren, no orange
wings resting at the end of a long journey;
no passing through Pennsylvania;
my future child looking curiously at Monarch Butterflies
in the pages of a book, me telling them the myth-like story
of raising the extinct caterpillars.


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