05 December 2014

Where Butterflies Go

We had a weeping willow tree in our yard when I was a kid. It's not there any more; the last time I drove past that property, I saw the new owners had cut it down. It had stood, a kind of sentinel, at the corner of the drive, overhanging the mailbox. And at the right time of year, you could feel its tears. They were sticky. Sap, I guess. I don't actually know.

Also at the right time of year, the butterflies would come. They would crowd the willow, stopping on their way to Mexico. Isn't that where they go on migration? I read about it once.

There would be butterflies everywhere. Which meant sometimes one might accidentally roller skate over a few. It made me sad to do it, sad enough that I would cry for a tiny, crushed life. My mother called me "tenderhearted." I tried, whenever the butterflies were in town, to watch my steps. To be cognizant of my place in the universe and not take theirs.

I don't know where the butterflies go now the willow is gone. There are other trees in that yard—all oak—but they seemed to prefer the willow. Or maybe that's just how I remember it. Maybe I preferred the willow. Maybe I'm still unwittingly stepping on butterflies.

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