Butterfly Woman

Devotes her life to butterflies.

Wakes up each morning at 6am,

breakfasts with her ornithologist husband and small son.

Son off to nursery, a sweet farewell.

Train journey, and then she enters the mighty museum’s doors,

through winding, ancient corridors; is ready

to immerse her self in counting, collating and classifying


Not the immediately, obviously beautiful, but these humble browns

with their thousands of variations of pattern and shade.

They tell her about environmental devastation and climate change,

the occassional, heartening and unexpected flourishing

of a species thought in decline.

But first, for an hour she answers inquisitive email queries,

before her brown butterflies

allow her  to lose all sense of time.

Then, blinking into the daylight, after her windowless room,

she lunches with fond colleagues, works late into the afternoon.

Before her son was born each year involved long trips to wild, uncharted places,

now only once a year with National Geographic.

Last time she was left on top of a mountain, just below great, saucer shaped clouds.

Beneath the clouds, and all around the sky line, virgin forest.

Here, every day, they searched for butterflies.

Once, in a heart stopping moment, the homing plane flew straight past them,

before doubling back.

Now, in the long quiet of evening, son settled and dreaming of butterfly skies,

she and her husband are each engaged in writing up their papers, in the warm light

of their shared study,

walls covered in bird and butterfly charts,

everywhere natural history books.

I remember now the small, deep yellow butterflies we saw yesterday when we

were walking,

flitting like shards of summer sunshine over the Spring green grass.

©  IDF Andrew


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