“Don’t step on it!” my daughter warned
as we carried the groceries in
from the garage. It looked like a leaf,
orange and brown, ragged-edge wings.
She brought it in for her “collection,”
until it moved, and then became her pet.
Ignorant of the secret life of butterflies,
I had no idea they survived the cold
in Fairbanks; this winter-wakened
Compton Tortoiseshell (we googled it)
was as big a surprise as a Yeti would have been.
It lapped up orange juice from my daughter’s
hand, flew around her room and returned
to that outstretched palm, emerging by day
and going back into the butterfly house
by night. A domesticated insect!
Even knowing the end was near did not
prevent the tears a few days later—not hers
but mine, ashamed to weep for a bug.