Near-Earth Object

Unlike the monarch, though
the asteroid also slipped
quietly from its colony
on its annular migration
between Jupiter and Mars,
enticed maybe by
our planetary pollen
as the monarch by my neighbor’s
slender-leaved milkweed.
Unlike it even when
the fragrant Cretaceous
atmosphere meteorized
the airborne rock,
flaring it into what might
have looked to the horrid
triceratops like a monarch
ovipositing (had the butterfly
begun before the period
broke off). Not much like
the monarch I met when I
rushed out the door for the 79,
though the sulfurous dust
from the meteoric impact
off the Yucatán took flight
for all corners of the heavens
much the way the next
generation of monarchs
took wing from the milkweed
for their annual migration
to the west of the Yucatán,
and their unburdened mother
took her final flit
up my flagstone walkway,
froze and, hurtling
downward, impacted
my stunned peninsular
left foot. Less like
the monarch for all this,
the globe-clogging asteroid,
than like me, one of my kind,
bolting for the bus.

More Poems by John Shoptaw