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Beth Copeland

Single, Blue

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.

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