The Red-spotted Purple is my favorite butterfly. I have seen her only once. As a youth in New Jersey, I roamed the fields and woods hunting butterflies and moths. I counted over 200 species in my collection. I regret those killing days. Beauty is most beautiful when alive. The beauty of butterflies, the beauty I was trying to capture and make a part of my soul, inspires me still and always. I found the Red-spotted Purple by knowing the position of the sun, seeing the butterfly’s shadow, then knowing just where to look in the canopy. Knowing where to look is the key to so many things.
Angles of Sun and Shadow Showed the Forest Butterfly
Shadows have wings,
did you know? They flit
through green canopies, they race
over forest floors. I can find
their masters by discerning
the relative position of the Sun.
That one—see there—
I have found her
only once, the prettiest
of them all, I say,
all melding swirls and spots
of royal and rust, the rarest,
also, for my having found her
in so many woodland ramblings,
or perhaps she spites
ubiquity with stealth. To me
she is a rare beauty, spied
by no mere chance, but by calculating
from the relative position of the Sun.
First image by skeeze from Pixabay. Second image by Peggy Dyar from Pixabay.
Roger Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road. The book tells the true life story of an obscure farm road and its power to transform the human heart. The book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon. See Rabbit Lane reviewed in Words and Pictures.