Queen Danainae
by Michelle Young

When you were a young larvae,
I knew you would reign as Monarch.
I watched you suckle on milkweed

gaining sustenance, protection—
saw you march across leaves, chomping,
your feet coordinated as a platoon on parade.

Your zebra stripes, accented
electric yellow, screamed like the fabric
of my favorite 80s dress.

Now fully grown, I see
your family resemblance, but Nymphalidae
offers none more beautiful.

Your wings glow warm, a vision of stained
glass in St. Paul's Cathedral,
or backlit art deco panels in a Tiffany lamp.

Viceroy hopes to be your doppelganger,
Queen and Soldier mimic your mantle
like a knock off Chanel.

They ride your reputation,
harbor in the protection of your colors,
but you are the original.

Furl your tongue, and stretch your wings—
the wind invites you to flutter south
and I will follow, look for you in California.


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