Tag Archives: Tiger Swallowtail

See My Wings

On my recent cycling and hiking forays into the local canyons, I have been graced with the presence of hundreds of gorgeous, enormous Tiger Swallowtail butterflies.  Such amazing creatures!  Utterly vulnerable, yet mighty and magnificent in their beauty and flight.  I reached into the memory of my butterfly collecting days (God forgive me) and my first experience of seeing a butterfly wing under a microscope.  That these stunning creatures can fly on flimsy wings astonishes me.  They embody such a rare combination: beauty and strength and humility.  With no worry for their future, with no thought of the impossibility of them against the world, they fly and fly, in spite of the skeptic.  This poem grasps at the metaphor of a butterfly’s flight to contemplate the concepts of beauty, introspection, the flight of the human soul, and the finding of hope, faith, and trust in this life.  I hope you enjoy it.

SEE MY WINGS

Look closely
at my wings,
carefully,
do not touch,
scrutinize
up close
with the microscope of your brain
and see,
see scale upon scale
in row upon row,
the most exquisite tapestry
known:
orange and blue
spots and whorls
blending
into one another;
yellow and black
fields and stripes,
veined,
coursing
under Sun’s heat
and tiny flutterings
that flash beauty unabashed and unaware,
that lift on wing
into apparent invisibility
of air and sky,
of breath and life,
of trust
implausible and true.

Roger Evans Baker is the author of Rabbit Lane: Memoir of a Country Road.  The non-fiction book is available in print and for Kindle at Amazon.  Rose Gluck Reviews recently reviewed Rabbit Lane in Words and Pictures.

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Fly

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I watched a battered Tiger Swallowtail fly awkwardly from flower to flower, clinging precariously from its remaining feet, its tails cracked and broken.  How sad, I thought, that this usually stunning butterfly has lost its beauty.  Only later did it occur to me that the swallowtail had lost nothing of real beauty.  It lived on, though battered by storms, by would-be predators.  What it had lost in glamour it had gained in strength and nobility.  And it still commanded the air.  It still indulged in the sweetness of life.  This poem celebrates the swallowtail.

FLY

Today you limp
on air:
wings faded,
edges serrated,
tails broken off.
Still, flowers
beckon
you to push awkwardly on,
to cling with three barbed feet.
Uncurl your coil
to taste the sweetness
of the flowers
today.

Fences

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Farm fences flank me as I walk on Rabbit Lane two days before Christmas.  Walking the length of the country road, I begin to contemplate the nature of fences.  Fences keep the cattle in their pastures, while keeping pheasant poachers out.  Fences remind me of the limitations I put on myself through fear and doubt.  I think of social, legal, political, and relationship boundaries.  I ponder that each cedar fence post used to be a juniper tree thriving in the Utah desert.  I imagine lines of soldiers marching into battle in distant early-morning mists.  Ultimately, we can choose to transcend many of our life’s fences, like the butterfly that simply flies over, as if the fences do not exist.

FENCES

Grain-field fences march
away in a disciplined line,
cedar post after cedar post,
rough-barked,
each tugging its barbs
taut as burning guns
at soldiers’ cheeks, marching
straight and away at an acute angle
to the way I would go,
hemming me in with wicked wire
points, urging me down, at the risk
of gash and scar, the direct
and dusty disciplined road,
while a Tiger Swallowtail
lazily wafts its easy way across
the fence to flutter above
the ripe wheat tops,
and a Western Kingbird
darts here and there,
erratic, up and down,
above all artificial lines, chasing
invisible insects overhead.

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