Poetry

Butterfly

The idea comes to her one morning as she brushes her teeth. A red cloud creeps across her eye, nudges the iris and stills. The fifty percent increase in blood that rushes around claustrophobic organs is now evident in the mirror, in her eye, and the drop caught between conjunctiva and sclera will tumble through many colours before it fades in two weeks’ time.

As a lepidopterist sets a surplus specimen in resin on his day off, he is sure that it is for how the light scatters on the scales and the thought of wings that watch the viewer, which sells what he finds at the bottom of the enclosure every couple of days.

She holds her purchase in both hands, larger than she expected. She thinks of melanin. Of how, in recent months, stares bypass her near-translucent skin, her layers of fat and muscle, to mix palettes of beige, brown and cream. Match these with shades for eyes and hair. She does not wrap the gift or wait for her partner to come home, but instead hangs it in the window for him (and everyone else) to see. The colours shift from blue to green to yellow and reflect onto her cheek. Those little legs will never stretch out again, the wings never flutter off the glass. The air around her becomes viscose, hardens under the glance of a passer-by.

The butterfly was dead anyway. Her foetus turns in utero.

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