To Glimpse a Butterfly
I nicknamed her ‘Papillon’,
from that very first day I saw her...
in a small, white room, down the end
of a corridor led to nowhere.
Visiting my gran, with my mum...
got bored and wandered off –
her TV on; an episode of Dr. Who
and I thought she was asleep
as I loitered by her open door.
She smiled – beckoned me in,
and I noticed her hands, pale and thin –
white as paper – blue veined like the wings
of a butterfly – or so they reminded me.
“Come closer, child,” she said, as I stood
by her bed. “I’m dying, you know,
but don’t be afraid. I promise I won’t go –
not just this moment, anyway.”
“What’s it like?" I asked. “Waking up,
each morning, thinking you might die?”
She gathered a Paisley shawl, tight
around her shoulders...closed her eyes,
and I pressed my small hand into hers,
afraid I had spoken out of line.
And then she spoke.
“It’s no worse, my friend, than waking up each day,
like you, and everyone else on this earth,
and pretending you won’t.”