About angels IX

Monarchs in motion; photo via flickr by farflungphotos

Monarchs in motion; photo via flickr by farflungphotos

Through the night, coated in frost,
the woods around my town wait for the light of dawn.
Like closed leaves, the monarch butterflies
cover the trunk and branches of the trees.
Superimposed, one upon the other, like a single organism.

The sky goes blue with cold. The first rays of sun
touch the clusters of numb butterflies
and one bunch falls, opening into wings.
Another cluster is lit and through the effect of the light
splinters into a thousand flying bodies.

The eight o’clock sun opens up a secret that slept
perched on the trunks of the trees,
and there is a breeze of wings, rivers of butterflies in the air.
Visible through the bushes, the souls of the dead
can be felt with the eye and hand.

It is noon. In the perfect silence, the sound
of a chainsaw is heard advancing toward us,
shearing wings and felling trees. Man, with his thousand
naked and hungry children, comes howling his needs
and shoving fistfuls of butterflies into his mouth.

The angel says nothing.

Homero Aridjis is the author of more than 40 books of poetry and prose and is one of Latin America’s leading environmental activists. He is a featured poet at the Split This Rock poetry festival. Melissa Tuckey is the poetry editor for Foreign Policy In Focus and on the board of Split This Rock.