Ruminations of a Butterfly Collector

by Jeff Alan

Forget the ones mounted and framed on the walls
with pins thrust through their delicate hearts:

only transient beauty can fill the blank shadow boxes
of bounded days–like this monarch

kneeling at the temple of the fallen tree,
dressed in the saffron robes of a Buddhist monk,

flightless but still lifting its four wings to the heavens,
then letting them fall, over and over, like a prayer.

Its body, having slept wrapped in its own wings,
knows something about waiting,

and when the time is right for leaving.
It unfurls its curled proboscis

and probes the crumbling walls of the temple,
certain, like me, that there is something transcendent

in the moldering bark, the rain-slick leaves,
this net hanging slack at my side.

Jeff Alan’s writing has appeared in Eclectica, Boston Literary Magazine, Camroc Press Review, and elsewhere. He lives in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina. His website is

Back to Issue Nine: Fall 2010