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July 1, 2023

A Brief Footnote to Butterflies in May

© the author

Swallowtails cling to blossoms

of wolfsbane wildly purpled

 

in their toxic namesake: Greek

and feminine: Aconitine

 

a sorcery to slow any heart to silence.

Labial petals leaning in wind,

 

scoured cold by night rains,

loving the soil that gave them birth,

 

just seeds in my hands, now juice rumored

to kill wolves: bitter,

 

like loners in the dusky reek of basement wine.

Like whoever keeps wisteria nurtured

 

and bright beside a burned-out house,

colors they don’t want lost to darkness.

___

by J.C. Alfier

JC Alfier’s (they/them) most recent book, The Shadow Field, was published by Louisiana Literature Press (2020). Journal credits include The Emerson Review, Faultline, New York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, Penn Review, Southern Poetry Review, and Vassar Review. They are also an artist doing collage and double-exposure work.

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