Laura Madeline Wiseman

In a Plague of Butterflies with Whiskey Drinkers & Snake Doctors 

We personify the soul. As swarms, we’re bad omens. Where we flutter in a room, death follows. We split-arch on any ground. Hands cradle the place where we hunger, where the words come. Rainforest music burbles. We open like blooms by dew. If adult, not pupa, what’s pretend? Is it possible to release deep-seated tension? Could we take on more light or wind? In the court below, sneakers percussive. Barbells clang. Chit-chat sends fingers of nonsense. We could migrate, lay eggs, or die with the season change. We consider the options. Rather than endure ill-luck, they kill our first born.

They kill our unborn. Belly down, limbs lifted, they breathe, but they never feed us or let us wet our tongue. We’re eaten, made into chocolate bars or chews. We’re crushed, fragile vessels that cling to wall or tree. At night, we’re mute. For seventeen years or a season, we wait to open glittering eyes or suck by mandible. We chirp a weeping quiver. To some, it’s the music of laziness; to others, the music of dance. Resurrection, immortality, ecstasy—it’s chords we play. No hunger. No sleep. Only one song to sing until death. These are the Muse’s gifts.

The Muse’s gifts are swiftness, happiness, and speed. To assume the pose, we bring one foot to the mat’s edge, turn, lift, or deepen. In the desert, we are blue-bellied eye-snatchers doing push-ups as on the hollow trunks of mulberries. In the city we are devil’s darning needles hovered over glinting open-air creeks. Outside that apartment, we were the dead and desiccated on borrowed mats. We are symbol of autumn, a mirror of strength, the courage of the sinister. Near the remains of Chimney Rock, we ride the breeze above a cemetery. If injured, we stitch together snakes, weigh souls.


-Featured in Issue 1: Mother Earth