Florence Weinberger


A Monarch butterfly is trapped under the eaves.
Its tribe is dying off.
I reach across species, tell it to be still,
get it to sit a millisecond on the soft fuzz of a feather duster
so I can lift it to safety,
but it goes right back to its struggle like a punch-drunk boxer.
Every time I come close it revs its wings with a speed that turns it black.
Finally it stalls, like a small plane
that seems to lose its heart to the sky’s implacable size.
The next morning there it is, so quiet
I’m afraid it has wedded itself to the wood and died a mosaic.
But it is alive,
and I don’t know how to set myself free.

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I Fell Three Times in Your Proximity

This could end here. Without examining
my proclivity for falling in your vicinity.
Because, daughter, I don’t have a cause
for that. The poem so far, like the life,
could fall on coincidence. On a life
of shudder and love, the words
that flew out of your mouth
when you saw me sprawled helpless
as a wounded bat, limbs so bruised,
mind so pissed by the sidewalk’s assault
I could not get up by myself
and didn’t want to. I go back to my own
helpless mother: it was just before Chanukah
when she should have been making her matchless
potato pancakes, but sat still recovering
from a heart attack, teaching me,
as I stood above the stove in her home
what is passed on in the genes
when after a fall there is the white silence
shattered by the scream of your care.

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