If they have come for the butterflies then
bless their breaking hearts, but the young pair is
looking nowhere except each other's eyes.
He seems like he could carry them both
over the street on great wings of grief tucked
under his coat, while all around them float,
like wisps of ash or the delicate
prism sunlight flashing off the city glass,
the orange-yellow-black-wing-flecked monarchs.
Migrant, they're more than two dozen today,
more long-lived than the species who keep
to the localized gardens–they're barely
a gram apiece, landing, holding still for
the common milkweed that feeds their larvae,
or balanced on bridges of plumegrass stalks
and bottle-brush, wings fanning, closing, calmed
by the long searchlight stems of hollyhock.
If they have come for the butterflies then
why is she weeping when he lifts her chin?
He looks like he's holding his breath back–
or is he trying to shed tears, too? Are
any left? He's got his other hand
raised, waving, and almost before it stops
the taxi's doors flare on both sides open.
Nothing's stirring in the garden, not us,
not the thinnest breeze among the flowers,
yet by the time we look again they've flown.