Veronica Patterson

Self Portrait with Butterfly


In my hand—a jar emptied of all

but a segment of dried milkweed stalk


and curled leaves. Two hours earlier,

it had been stained glass,


black and orange, some small god

caught in a church without sanctuary.


When I took the jar from the garage shelf,

where I had forgotten the chrysalis


lesson brought home from the field,

I set it on grass, unscrewed the lid,


and leaped back. Slowly, a live thing

unfolded each wing, clung stunned


to the rim, and then floated away

above the lamentation. Waking from


yet another sleep, I saw then how I would be

astonished over and over, lucky all my days.


My whole life! islands of light

on the dark borders of such wings.



© Copyright Veronica Patterson 2018. All Rights Reserved