Everywhere the damp pant of butterflies, their bodies ever weakening. Wings of patterned camouflage, panicked gauze. The butterflies had suffered the fat fingers of children all day. The hearty ones were captured and delivered to these few yards of September air under netting’s false sky. Others were grown here in the small hours: the whorled cocoons, mummified fists waiting for delicate rupture, emergence of wings peeling open to air’s first kiss. The butterflies clung hard to hair strands, clothing, warm fingers. One trembled on my thumb like a tiny heart attack: a yellow shiver of wings spattered with translucent eyes. Six legs gripped skin as if bearing up the weight of autumn night. You touched the antennae tips in sudden apology. Wings nodding for the last time in one brief life. We weren’t ready to say good-bye.