Common Blue

Their eggs are laid on lupine. Tiny jade
hairstreaks I could easily mistake for dew.
Too precious. Too incidental,
and besides that, blue, these trills that flounce
in my potato patch, drawn
from dryland origins to the domestic
stain of water from my hose.
What an old woman would study, I think
as you hand me the guidebook, distracted
by the replica of a parasol
growing out of a bleached cow pie.
The Siamese kitten with his butterfly eyes
comes running, his mouth full
of swallowtail, his breath smelling of borax
and sugar I have poured
over the ant hills in the garden.
He is young and intent on eating poison.
We bushwhack through Paradise,
what is there to say except to lament
the daily evidence of its passing.
How the common blues scatter from my shade.
And you, so fragile, so sick, so thin,
your diet restricted, keep pointing out
the bearded face of larkspur.
When the angels fell, a fifteenth-centruy bishop says,
there were 133, 306, 668 of them.
It takes us all afternoon to cross the field.
The body, it is so sad what happens to it.
If you fell, you would dry up instantly.
But these are not angel wings
who disguise themselves as leaf or shred of bark,
who are named after the stops
in meaning our language must make room for:
the comma whose wings look battered,
or the violet underside of the question mark.
To keep the mind from clenching, you say,
is the main thing. Even the most
beautiful days always seem to have death in them.
As Valentinus said; our fall into love and sleep.
You especially like the dark alpines
with their furred bodies and lack of marking.
And the sulphurs, yellowed scraps that fall
from a myth of origin that doesn’t include us.
When we find them, we will wonder
who is still alive. We speak of our souls with such
surface ease. But who will take such care for us?
You bend and bend to the scrappy blue sea,
your back turned to the moon fluttering above you.
I have been thinking so much of strength
this week, yours and mine, I mean,
the field of attention that can be strengthened.

Melissa Kwasny, “Common Blue” from Ploughshares (Spring 2000). Copyright © 2000 by Melissa Kwasny. Reprinted by permission of Ploughshares.
Source: Ploughshares (2000)
More Poems by Melissa Kwasny