A butterfly lands on the gravel road,
and I recall the first time I met you for coffee
at Bohemia and the stranger who told us about a flurry
of blue butterflies fluttering in a tree after his mother died.
We talked about India and your Sanskrit tattoo.
I liked the cotton scarf cocooned around your neck.
We met for coffee, lunch, coffee, lunch—but never
touched. You’d disappear for weeks—even
months—and just when I thought you were gone
for good, you’d emerge from a chrysalis of silence.
I stop to catch my breath and watch the butterfly open
and close its wings as if signaling in code. Yes, no, yes, no.
With wings closed, it almost vanishes like a leaf
in the road; wings open, it glows
with iridescent blues and black mantilla fringe.
Is it a message from my mother? Is she speaking
from the other side? I don’t know, but I know
what she’d say about us: Don’t wait
for a man to decide if he wants you or not.
Fly solo. I’m letting you go.
Beth Copeland is the author of three full-length poetry books: Blue Honey, recipient of the 2017 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize; Transcendental Telemarketer; and Traveling through Glass, recipient of the 1999 Bright Hill Press Poetry Book Award. She owns and operates Tiny Cabin, Big Ideas™, a residency for writers.