Butterfly Secrets

Cerro El Companario is one of the mountain sanctuaries in Michoacan, Mexico where colossal colonies of monarch butterflies from the Great Lakes spend November through March.

In this forest high above the level of the sea
my heart pumps fast as I climb,
and my eyes are startled by
tree trunks coated with wings –
butterfly-covered branches!

A swaying pine called oyomel
holds butterflies close with its resin.
These evergreens have clasped and rocked them
all through the mountain night.
In predawn light I watch them,
wings folded tight
to conserve
the tiny furnace of their bodies.

When sunrise touches the trees –
the very moment—the butterflies
open their wings to accrue the heat.
I watch while spread-winged millions
wait with opened wings
for the precise temperature
of flight.

Then under new March sun,
the butterflies reach that perfect fervor.
They lift to flight and fill the sky for miles
‘They stream, they teach us}
to lean on the air
to drift along like little songs
like silent        floating            notes.

Beneath their cloud of lace,
I lumber up
to their sanctuary summit.
Under twenty million pairs of wings,
I sit.
Their shadows dance across my page.
They swirl like
leaves that forget to descend.
Like fairies all around,
they spread benevolence.

The sun shines through their wings,
paints panes of purest glass
in orange with leaded black.
Somewhere in the world this day
their veined grace
cancels acts of violence.
I worship at their church.

Now they descend to drink.
With flutter and flit the butterflies
approach their goal roundabout.
They bow in every direction
before their massive landing.
Just there, where
crystal mountain water
trickles across the human path,
they make a mosaic
of myriad monarch.

Some land upon my folded legs,
Some rest a blessing on my forearms.
I do not move.
These holy heralds have already faced
the death of form we humans fear.
They have dreamed and died
to what they were.
One butterfly kisses my ear
with a secret.

This is how I know
they will go ahead of me.
Just as now they begin to drift
down the mountainside,
these enlightened ones
will take me deeper.
These delicate messengers who have burst
from chrysalis to light,
and pilgrimaged to Mexico,
will be my guides,
and escort me through
the tunnel at my ending time.

©Susa Silvermarie 2019

poet in the sancturary

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