The edge of your brain opened underwater
when the riptide drug you past the breakers.
I could see you from the shore; your drowning
was slow motion, a paper butterfly buffeted
by wind. But then the ocean burped you up.
You swam in, exhausted. When we woke
in the morning, the monarchs were migrating,
thousands of them alighting on rafters
along the shore of Cape May. I had thought
of your helpless arms as wings, but I know now
those insects are machines—determined mass
of whispering, nothing at all like paper.
Not at all like drowning. Indelicate,
and terrifying, they rage forward in a silent swarm
as if the going home were no journey, no survival,
but the one thing they were made for.
—from Rattle 29, Summer 2008
Caryn Lazzuri: “When I was a child, I used to wonder where the butterflies went when it rained. Rafters, I was told. I spent years looking under things in storms, and never found a Monarch or a Swallowtail, just a desire to come up with my own answers, to create something that sounded more real than the truth.”