Late Butterfly

The autumn air is heavy, damp and warm.
From over the neighbor’s wooden fence —
a — Butterfly.
Orange, gold, black borders round the wings
appears, descends, delicately lands. On me.

It clings to my fingers.
I try, politely, to transfer it to a leaf.
It holds to the flesh of my forefinger
and the back of my thumb
with its thin black legs.

Now what shall I do with a butterfly glued
to my hand?
How can I wash the dishes, write letters, sew — ?
Wiggling my fingers, shaking my hand
I march round the yard, then try to set
my visitor down on a stalk of yarrow. But. The butterfly does not wish to go.

Flattered, yes, to be chosen by so glorious a being
I hesitate. But peace, Enough!
Determined now I carefully detach the spidery legs,
the gripping feet from their firm if delicate touch —
but they return and still I have to push the creature off,
seeing as it goes a midnight throat and velvet head
dotted with white stars. White stars!

Unable to achieve much height it flutters,
unsteady as one still half asleep or drugged.
Slowly, oh so slowly, do those magnificent sunset wings
lift — then fall, flying off towards where it came from.

I watch it disappear into the night,
taking the summer with it.

Alwyn Moss