Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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At the Lepidopterist’s House
47 Bolshaya Morskaya Street, St. Petersburg

Their colors only fly by day. I always found
them trembling on leaves as chrysalides, flitting
from phlox to foxglove with new wings, soundless
in the thrum of early summer. I was sitting

on a bench on Nevsky Prospect once, waiting
for life to get exciting, when a monarch
broke the dullness of an iron gate
and tore the afternoon apart. One art

is like another. I wrote my sentences to show
slow phosphorescent motes and caught
my net on beauty. There’s always more to know
about the world, the whirring light. Obsession taught

me patience, made me attentive to the shape
of thoraxes and microscopic veins, the bending
arc of stems. The killing jar is never where it ends.
Inside the glass, the vanished landscape

magnifies—its iridescent shades preserved in scales
that seldom fade in banishment or shame.
My ephemera are pinned, hanging from every wall,
though nothing really stays the same.

The house front goes; the once opulent rooms
brim with the ravenous gaze of travelers,
and I myself am just a traveler whose vision zooms
in on the tiny fibers of my coat. Stitches unravel.

I once remembered all their names: skippers and coppers,
allies and swallowtails. Their metamorphosis beguiles
me, and while I know the past will never stop her
badgering, I’ll rest awhile amid their glorious disguise.  

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