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The Path of a Butterfly

Photo by Jennifer Bloom

A couple years ago, I met a man at a gathering at a friend's house. We enjoyed a long and rambling conversation, which at one point shifted to hiking and some of the most memorable places we'd each explored. "My two favorite parts of a hike," he told me playfully, "are the view from the top and the beer at the bottom." I laughed with him. I like those parts to, but my favorite is the climb up, the feeling of exertion in my body, and the not knowing what is around the next corner. Then he said something that blew my mind. So much so that I spent weeks contemplating and writing a poem inspired by his comment.

The Path of a Butterfly (from Pandemic Corona) “There are no straight lines in nature,” he said, One hand pressed against the stained oak cabinet, His hip leaning on the polished granite counter. “There are no flat surfaces, no right angles.” How could I not have noticed? Now I look for them everywhere. I look for lines in the way grass grows. I search for angles in trees, A smooth face of rock on which to rest. But each blade of grass curves a little differently; Each limb emerges in a peculiar way; The ground pokes at my seat. I see the path of a storm twist and turn up the jagged coastline, Boundaries blur between colors of a rainbow. Even my body is all curves, Expanding and contracting with each breath As I sit, Pen in hand, Searching for the linear narrative of this journey. But life does not unfold in a straight line. It spirals like the path of a butterfly. It putters along quietly then opens wide, Explodes in torrents, Floods of action and emotion, Leaving puddles and pools in its wake. I am standing at the edge of the story. In the reflection, I make meaning From angles not right Or wrong, but different; Each lens offering its own perspective. The story changes every time I tell it. Words can only approximate A narrative that spirals, Weaving echoes from the past As our tales twine together, As we decide which will be the next step: The one fueled by fear Or the one guided by courage and compassion. We are standing together at the edge of this story. I will pass you my pen. Together, we will write the next chapter.

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