I open my mouth and imagine butterflies are going to fly out
that inside me are flocks of brilliant monarchs that have struggled
to hatch and pupate and transform into brilliance for years.
I command these butterflies to fly out of me, through my open mouth,
to burst through my skin in brilliant flocks of black-tipped wings and rainbows.
I can almost feel them inside me, encourage them
to force their way through my body, through my skin
can almost feel their tiny claws struggling to find purchase
along the slick, wet meat inside my chest.
Nothing comes out and I am empty, I don’t understand
why the room isn’t filled with rainbow-tinted butterflies
why there aren’t sparkling clouds of wings filling the room
obscuring the quiet crowd before me. I was sure there was something
better inside of me than what could be seen through my skin. The audience
stares at me in impatient confusion from rows of folded metal chairs
they came here to see me do something special
they came to see something wonderful, or just something.
The butterflies I thought would carry this performance
die just short of emerging, perhaps suffocated by doubt
or just unable to find a clear path out.
Poem by Holly Day
Art by William Crawford