To a Small Copper Butterfly

by Peter Marcus



I’ve only ever known you as a replica
of the heart, tiny lyre, book of smoke.
I listened to you breathing once you
settled on my wrist as if the mortal
pulse is nectar, then watched as you
passed above my lolling body—a silk
fan painted with a bamboo footbridge
leading into distant, mist-shrouded
mountains. By the malachite river
you fluttered over me like a skilled
hand suturing a wound. Your antennae
soundless as the nothingness of
your song. I will leave this shining
riverbank with you, going wherever
you go. I sense we aren’t far, Lycaena
phlaeas, whom the Greeks referred to
as a burning flower. The heft of these
massive fallen trees anesthetized by
sunlight. I understand now, why you
brought me to this hidden infirmary
of maple, linden, oak, and pine—all
slumped, collapsed, keeled over.
And among them, one plain casket:
open, unoccupied, filled with light.



Peter Marcus recently learned that Sheep Meadow Press will be publishing his second collection, Traveling Towards Daylight in May 2019. He has poems upcoming in Miramar, North American Review, Poetry East, and the Southern Review. He works as a psychology professor and administrator for Elms College in Chicopee, MA. The poems in this submission are all from his current manuscript-in-progress entitled Northern Hours.

Back to Vol. IV: “Wonder”