The (Last?) Dance of the Butterflies

By David L. Steinberg

This poem was created in reaction to an ABC News report I saw in 1985 and I was deeply moved by it.  For years, nothing happened other than the further destruction of the Monarch Butterfly habitat.  There was finally enough public outcry that the Government of Mexico responded to protect this area and the butterfly population was slowly coming back. Then, I read on the front page of the USA Today News 2/16/2017, this article:  OMG!

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2017/02/15/monarch-butterfly-mexico-storms/97945470/

This is one reason why sustainability touches all of us, not only for the beauty of the butterfly, but the pollination they provide for the propagation of seeds for the next generation of plants, many of which feeds us, others allow us to enjoy the beauty of nature.

Butterflies, bees, hundreds (thousands??) of species near extinction?  Why we don’t honor all forms of life, is beyond me. In the words of the cartoonist, Walt Kelly, who created the comic strip, POGO, ”We have met the enemy and it is us!”

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Flitter, flitter,

Flutter, flutter,

Leaf to leaf,

Flower to flower.  Evermore.

 

Day by day,

Week by week,

Month by month,

Season by season.

 

Since before Columbus,

Predating the Christ,

Or Moses or Abraham,

And, Yes, even Adam!

 

Since time began

They danced in the sky,

Uncounted millions,

An awesome spectacle!

 

Annual ritual,

Migration upon migration,

Northern climes when warm,

Then to Old Mexico in cold.

 

They went as silently

As they came,

Bothering no one,

Leaving no trace.

 

Unknown by any

But themselves,

Except their reunion

In that sacred grove.

 

Discovered accidentally,

Their ancient winter home,

After years of search,

By dedicated men.

 

The gentle ones came

To watch their habits,

And record their images,

Upon their film.

 

They did not disturb

Those dancing beauties,

Just to observe

And to record.

 

But others came,

And saw, too,

But what they sawed

Were the trees

 

That are the winter homes

Of these dancing butterflies.

They have gone north

For this year.

 

Those in charge said,

“Nothing can be done,

For we need timber

More than dancing butterflies.”

 

What will be there

When all the trees are gone?

The film of what once was

Since time began, but is no more?

 

Where do they return

If they have no home?

Dancing aimlessly.

Is this their last dance?

 

Flitter, flitter,

Flutter, flutter,

Leaf to leaf,

Flower to flower. Nevermore?

This poem was first published in “The Pink Cloud of Love,” a poetry book by David L. Steinberg. Copyright, May, 1985, Second Printing, August, 1989, Third Printing, May 2017.  All rights reserved under the laws of the United States.  Permission is granted to Sustainable Cherry Hill to reprint.

Your comments are welcome: steinberg [dot] david07 [at] comcast [dot] net