Monday, November 21, 2011


image borrowed from bing


Some time ago,
(I don’t precisely remember when)

I read in the National Geographic
about an effort to save
an endangered species;
a butterfly that lives only
along the coast of southern California,
in the vegetation that grows
among the sand dunes
that rose along the coast
from Malibu to Redondo Beach;

a habitat lost largely to beach houses,
the one exception being the dunes
underneath the flight path
of jets taking off from LAX.

I used to see them now and again
at the elementary school
I attended in San Pedro.

even in those days,
my second-grade awareness
noticed it was not that often
that I would see them
out on the ocean of clover
we played football on;

just the most fragile cornflower blue
sparkling through dove grey;

a gem dancing on the weathered metal
of our huge swings and monkey bars
or alighting blossom to blossom
as they drifted along topaz Pacific trades.

by the time I left elementary school,
I rarely saw them:

they just seemed to vanish.

I can still remember
the last one I saw:
I scooped it up in my hands
and looked at it;
such a beautiful, fragile
little thing;

when I tried to release it,
it couldn’t fly;
I had rubbed its wings too much
and it could barely
make it off the clover
I had placed it on;

it lifted itself a few inches
and then fell back to earth;
gathered its strength and tried again
with the same result.

I felt terrible,
watching it struggle to live;
I just didn’t realize how fragile it was.

All these years later
I still feel guilty about it

knowing that today,
I would hold it with better hands.

Larry Kuechlin

Posted over on his Facebook wall.

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