local_library In the Butterfly Tent

by Julie Cox

Published in Issue No. 228 ~ May, 2016

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.

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An Edelstein-Keller Fellow and graduate of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota, Julie A. Cox has published poems in Hanging Loose, American Literary Review, Water~Stone, and elsewhere. She was awarded an arts retreat through the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center in 2005 and was named an alternate or finalist for several other awards, including the 2006 Writers @ Work Competition. Her poem “Held Up” was featured in the Minnesota State Arts Board 2012 Art of Recovery, a collection of art and writing by people victimized by crime.