Requiem for Lepidoptera
Lord, let them lay their butterflies on a pocket-
handkerchief on the gravel. Let them count out their
tortoise-shells, their red admirals and cabbage whites.
— Virginia Woolf, The Waves
Would that the world still had enough butterflies
to clot a net, fill a jar, lay on Victorian handkerchief.
Only to release again with child's pudgy handclap, microscopic glitter,
wing scales leaving iridescent smears on starched white.
We lust for tortoise-shell; we crave red
admirals to lead us to victory. The sun never sets
on our greed. Virginia hid her face
in a handkerchief stained
with butterfly pollen.
A cabbage white danced by the window this morning.
It was vulnerable, without compatriots, an exile
though home. These flittings are fleeting sights
now. Sales of butterfly nets are as rare
as those already-forgotten clusters of them,
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