When I Died of Butterflies

By Scott Beal

they had to go on doing algebra

and taking out the trash

there was no patch they could point to

and say that’s where he lies

the man who scrubbed their shower sometimes

and filled their stockings

when asked why I didn’t attend recitals or graduations

they answered that I had been taken by butterflies

and that ended the conversation

to their uncles and the police

it looked exactly as if I had gone out

to get a cigarette from the glove box

and never come back


only the two of them bore witness

to the color in which I was lifted

and how my voice calling I love you

grew smaller and smaller

they alone remembered

the first gem-tone dazzle unfolding

on my forearm

as we three stared in amazement

at this momentary blessing

the little feet pressed into my follicles

the compound eyes and coiled proboscis

before they swarmed

over my limbs and face

and lifted me into the sky

and past the sky


Scott Beal is the author of Wait ‘Til You Have Real Problems (Dzanc Books, 2014). His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in The Collagist, Chattahoochee Review, Four Way Review, SiDEKiCK, and other journals. He teaches in the Sweetland Center for Writing at the University of Michigan and serves as Dzanc Writer-in-Residence at Ann Arbor Open School. He co-hosts a monthly reading series called Skazat! in Ann Arbor.