My oldest daughter’s was gifted a butterfly garden for her 3rd birthday. We watched the six larvae plump up. Then each formed a chrysalis and after a few weeks all emerged as beautiful, painted lady butterflies. We fed them watermelon and pineapple and when the day came for release, I wasn’t sure my daughter would be ready. I thought she would cry and resist, but instead she celebrated their freedom. She shrieked with joy as one sat in her hand, gently tickling her skin, before flying away.
In her poetry Anya Silver always shared her “flightless soul” with her readers. I find myself returning to the wisdom of her poems, which offer lessons and prayer for how to, not cope, but thrive with illness and physical limitations. As she writes in this poem, “If prayer is forgetting,/ let the colored dust of decades/ rise in air…”
“The Burned Butterfly,” by Anya Silver
eeeeeThus this restless little butterfly of the memory
eeeeehas its wings burned now and cannot fly.
eeeee—Teresa of Avila
Char my wings. Lord, singe
these cells of forewing, hindwing.
Blacken memory’s sky blue
shimmer, its thousands of cells—
each startling pigment, each
dorsal and ventral venation—
the coppered glint of flight,
oh Lord. If prayer is forgetting,
let the colored dust of decades
rise in air, let me put away
all fluttered moments trapped
within my hair. These bodies
of memory—crippled, drab—
across the thirsty earth do blow.
I bring you, Lord, the rest
of it: my driving mind,
my flightless soul.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.