monarchs are the communication medium for when i die

by Phil SaintDenisSanchez
Photo courtesy of The Times-Picayune
for my grandmother Mere
Never has there been a more respectable hurricane, provided with all the portents, predictions, omens,
etc. The awful sunrise — no one could fail to take a warning from it — the hovering black spirit bird,
the man of war, just one, comme il faut. -New Orleanian Painter Walter Anderson on Hurricane
Betsy, which he rode out tied to a tree on the highest dune on Horn Island

the clouds & my lips & the catfish & my fingers & my grandmother & her stories: all Mississippi-burnt marshmallows by the pool & lounging, along the Gulf coast & manning it my grandmother’s gaze keeping water spouts from touching down too close to me allowing me the space to enjoy my catch in peace a tiny sun in my belly quieted by sweet tea & new tales go print your new piece & read it to me, my lamby i steer hurricanes from interrupting us by knowing just how to ride the eye i just found out my heart stopped while my mom was giving birth to me & i see now how that feeling never left me it lifts me above the heavy clouds in moments when the barometric pressure drops too low it begins to begin a flash of orange & black from Mexico the first wings of October falling upward opposite the leaves up north sharing their shade do people also need to die to keep the air around us fertile? here they are gathering flame & giving way to a flock Mere’s been waiting for that flicker of how the dead perceive the living & i embed it in my body as a prayer for my unraveling & the becoming that might follow you know butterflies are the communication medium for when i die watch for butterflies especially monarchs we speak through them to curve into their coastal margins parading through the air just above the swells like Creole royalty holding our ground as it recedes beneath us least of all a throne, leaving us with nothing to grip, but the heart quickening needed for what’s coming ii. we’ve been windbeaten to ready for the years of this coming century will be divided by its storms beneath Mere’s print of Jonah bursting from the whale i lie in bed throbbing a beat inside the terror of what i’ve called to me in moments i let the mad waves' break breach the berm wetlands absorbing a new night's surge to say that men need to destroy & rebuild is to say Laska likes chasing tennis balls up grassy hills & i finish to our videos i can barely maintain the boundaries of my body on beaches, in bars, in The Woods she presses up against me & touches what she wants another noun becomes a verb & she lingers on it i wait under the weight of language bodies piling up in this battle the costumes of The Leopard Society calling my skin promising to save me from the monstrous hunger if i don’t mind eating my own it’s not in me but in me still my antennae with all they can feel still hidden in my dream panoply i tell Mere everything i hope to do with my life & get a quick scolding to wake me well, you better get started & i see how close i am to emerging from the sea or swallowing it time a trade wind in my migration or a lighthouse before the crash we’re all one sail to Horn Island from being Walter Anderson during Betsy: a body & a waist with a skiff tethered to it two lungs & a chest roped to a black mangrove tree even on the highest dune the ocean wet all the way to both nipples spilling windwhipped seed & milk frothed to every wavelength at once interlocking watercolors unveiled where the pelican first appeared white1
Photo of Walter Anderson’s Pelican and Waves (Horizontal Pelican)

1 After Walter Anderson’s Pelican and Waves (Horizontal Pelican)

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