The Cabbage Butterfly

The human brain wants to complete—

The poem too easy? Bored. The poem too hard?
Angry. What’s this one about? Around the block
the easy summer weather, the picture-puff clouds
adrift in the blue sky that’s no paint-by-numbers.

In the corner garden, the cabbage butterfly
bothers the big leafy heads, trying to complete
its life cycle by hatching a horned monster to
chew holes in the green cloth manufactured so
laboriously by seed germ from air, water,
light, dirt. There’s no end to this, yes, no end.

Even when we want to stop, stop, stop! Even
when someone else calls us monster. Even when
we fear and hope that we will not have the final


Copyright © 2018 by Minnie Bruce Pratt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

During the years that I wrote and revised this poem, my lover, and ultimately spouse, was gravely ill. Hir medical care and my caregiving were deeply complicated by the anti-LGBTQ prejudices of some medical personnel, who certainly viewed us as ‘monsters.’ Every day for those years I took a walk to write a poem, trying to find a way to go on, a reason to even write poetry. The first draft of ‘The Cabbage Butterfly’ came from a walk I took on July 8, 2011. My beloved died in November 2014. I revised the poem four times before that loss and one time since. It is still not the final word.”
—Minnie Bruce Pratt