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Her Life

He has stolen her life and put it in a glass jar 
on his desk, the way a boy would lure 
a butterfly, a Pacific orangetip, 
into a jar holding a few milkmaids
with pale pink petals and fleshy leaves. At first
the orangetip feels quite at home, sucking 
nectar, then resting. The jar is warm, comfortable.

But then she remembers the foothills and lowlands,
the easy flight over oak woods and fields
splashed with the delicious yellow and purple
of mustards, fiddlenecks and thistles bowing
in wind. She opens her pastel yellow wings
marked with orange patches and black dashes.
Itís time to feel the sun again, oh yes!

The man is entranced, watching her flutter
against the glass and admiring the dark green
marbling on the underside of her hindwings.
He doesnít know sheís dying, or that he is cruel. 
In fact, he claims to love her and is planning 
to bring her more milkmaids. He believes 
she will thrive, so long as she is his.

      ó from Spillway #11, 2011

-- Lucille Lang Day
"Only 9% of What We Say is Understood
Exactly the Way We Mean It"

I am talking
and you are listening
or perhaps you aren't listening
but you've put on a brave face
and I wonít ask you to respond 
because most of what Iím saying 
is going in and out your ears
like a fast train on a slick track
and the voices of little children passing
break in here, talking to the air, 
to the legs of chairs, talking
whether we listen or not;
they are communicating with a world at knee level,
telling themselves through their day
that these things are important, 
their treble voices fade as they follow their mother 
like newly hatched ducklings, their indistinguishable voices 
slipping into my thoughts 
like wings of light, what they are saying 
less important than the inquisitive sounds they make -
their wisdoms absorbed instead
by the rug, by the covers of books, 
the whiffs of air that speed them on their way.
And I am talking, and you are listening, 
maybe even hearing, but what version
is mine, what translation will be yours.

-- C B Follett