Edgar Gabriel Silex


The Butterfly

I open my hands and show him the butterfly
fluttering in his eyes he reaches to touch it

it flits off dream-like
“how do you make a butterfly?” he asks

I weigh the knowledge between us
“with a caterpillar with too many fingers”

I run my fingers to tickle his tummy
“fingers that want everything in their hungry mouth”

I crawl them onto his face and mouth
and he squinches and giggles

“then you need rockets and airplanes
helicopters with flashing lights

and a painted sky like in your room
for him to sleep and dream in

then you need hot air balloons and hang gliders
to teach him to glide and land softly

and one day he’s learned Newton and Einstein
Mozart and Liszt and Van Gogh’s black crows

and he’s challenging you to reveal everything
that you know about being a butterfly

he devours more than you ever understood
until he’s sure he knows more than you how to make a butterfly

you let it lock itself up in it’s cocoon
let it slam the door if he likes

and one night there in the glow of fridge light
you can see the almost invisible lace of his wings

oh yes you can’t see them at first
and neither can he

but one day you’ll reach out to touch it
and off he will fly dream-like”

© Edgar Gabriel Silex

Edgar Gabriel Silex is the author of two poetry collections from Northwestern University Press (formerly Curbstone Press), Through All the Displacements and Acts of Love, as well as a chapbook, Even the Dead Have Memories, from New Sins Press. His first book was nominated for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Maryland State Arts Council. He lives in Laurel, Maryland.

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1 thought on “Edgar Gabriel Silex”

  1. Burgi Zenhaeusern said:

    So thrilled to be in the same issue as your wonderful poem! I have such a butterfly in the making at home. I can see him quiver in his cocoon. What an apt and beautiful image you’ve created!

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