So I felt like that butterfly on some level...surviving.
About our guest
Michael Mark is the author of Visiting Her in Queens is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet, which won the 2022 Rattle Chapbook prize. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Copper Nickel, The New York Times, Pleiades, Ploughshares, Southern Review, The Sun, 32 Poems, and The Poetry Foundation's American Life in Poetry. His two books of stories are Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). michaeljmark.com
by Tony Hoagland
When I get hopeless about human life,
which quite frankly is far too difficult for me,
I like to remember that in the desert there is
a little butterfly that lives by drinking urine.
And when I have to take the bus to work on Saturday,
or spend an hour opening the mail,
deciding what to keep and what to throw away,
one piece at a time,
I think of the butterfly following its animal around
through the morning and the night,
fluttering, weaving sideways through
the cactus and the rocks.
And when I have to meet all Tuesday afternoon
with the committee to discuss new bylaws,
or listen to the dinner guest explain his recipe for German beer,
or hear the scholar tell, again,
about her campaign to destroy, once and for all,
the cult of heteronormativity,
I think of that tough little champion
with orange and black markings on its wings,
resting in the shade beneath a ledge of rock
while its animal sleeps nearby;
and I see how the droplets hang and gleam among
the thorns and drab green leaves of desert plants
and how the butterfly alights and drinks from them
deeply, with a stillness of utter concentration.
Published in The Sun Magazine, November 2014 and in the collection, Application for Release from the Dream Graywolf Press, 2015
If you like this...
...you'll probably love our conversation with Salena Godden about 'You Don't Know What Love Is' by Kim Addonizio.