A Butterfly Appeared

Yesterday, a butterfly appeared
Fluttering at my windowpane, trapped on the inside,
Trying to get out, flummoxed, no matter how it tried,
By the invisible wall, the air of glass – and I feared
That all that’s right and all that’s wrong with the world
Was wrapped up in that moment, tightly furled:
A vision of light, as all the while, darkness neared

For here was beauty, nature at its most sublime
Within my grasp, though I had no thought of grasping,
A sign of something fleeting, yet strangely everlasting
As if capturing the mystery and paradox of time
For a butterfly – that quintessential symbol of change –
Is now at odds with the world we carelessly rearrange
To suit our rhythm and reason, without rhyme

We, the standing ape, who in our great escape
From the trees and from all things wild, untamed,
Have made a home for ourselves and proudly claimed
That what we choose to overuse is not rape
Only dominion – in truth, domination – over all
Until, in our arrogance, life itself begins to stall,
An age of extinction, an earth bent out of shape

Do I read too deep? Was it just a random butterfly?
Of course, I opened the window and let it out
A small victory for life and freedom; no doubt
An insignificant act, yet it felt good, at least to try
Yet later that day, another butterfly was trapped
And I released it too, and a third and fourth appeared, flapped
And flailed, a tap-tap dance of panic on the glassy sky

And so, it seems that my help was a delusion –
Quick fixes always are – for it did not touch the cause
The root of the problem, the artificial laws
That keep us wanting more, the unnatural profusion
Of things that we don’t need, that do not nourish
Our spirits, or allow nature’s great web to flourish
And so, we continue, blissful in our confusion

Still, this is the moment to change, as the end nears
For endings can be beginnings, if we let go
If we give up crawling and take to flying, we grow
For we are not prisoners of our darkest fears
We can act to reseed the earth and rewild the sea
We can choose to free up space for all life to be
For the next butterfly that appears

Wayne Visser © 2023


Wishing Leaves: Favourite Nature Poems

This creative collection, now in its 3rd edition, brings together nature poems by Wayne Visser, celebrating the diversity, beauty and ever-changing moods of our planet. The anthology includes many old favourites like “I Think I Was a Tree Once” and “A Bug’s Life”, as well as brand new poems like “Monet’s Dream” and “The Environmentalist”. Then as we turned our faces to the moon / Our hands entwined, our hearts in sync, in tune / We felt the fingers of the silken breeze / And made our wishes on the falling leaves / A gust of wind set off a whispered sigh / Among the trees that leaned against the sky.  Buy the paper book / Buy the e-book.