Question Mark Butterfly


An October’s windrowed field,

And on my hike I have to yield

When from the path you launch your lark

Then settle pressed against some bark.

A question for you, Question Mark:

How was it you were so designed

With beauty not foremost in mind?

You share the sugar maples’ mood

Like all your red-orange autumn brood,

But soon you’ll seek to winter where

With wings together as in prayer

You’ll haunt some crevice and forbear.

And why that trial by snow and ice—

Should not a chrysalis suffice?

Your wings when you will not confide

Show us their dullish woody side—

And that mark that can be coy,

That silver ringlet trompe l’oeil,

For which your Adam did anoint

You an interrogation point.

Then how you warn us story-lovers

Of judging books just by their covers,

For with one vivid respiration

You part your Book of Revelation,

That splendid text of ash and fire

Whose secret wisdom we desire!

And as you breathe who are the sages

That turn unseen your burning pages—

Can I become an intimate

Of Lepidoptera Holy Writ?

Your wings as well are so curvaceous,

Their flowing margins violaceous,

Like leaves in dreams, and hereupon we

Have to ask, this kirigami:

Who plied the shears with all this craft,

And where then are you autographed?

And shouldn’t such perfection’s hours

 Be wiled away in minding flowers?

And yet you crave what can’t invite us,

Felled rotting fruit and such detritus—

Between your flying-circus stunts

That fling you everywhere at once:

You’re like a flaming paper plane

Inside a private hurricane!

Is dread alone what makes you start?

(The thought of that can break the heart.)

Or is your romp that’s so erratic

The raptures of an Earth ecstatic—

With schooling in the Eleatic,

When since so often it’s your plan

To end up right where you began?

O Question Mark, you midair dancer,

Is silence then your only answer?

There’s so much I would like to know

But now I see you have to go

And leave me mostly in the dark

On matters of the Question Mark.