Passion Flower

Sharmagne Leland-St.John

When I was born my grandmother Whistum Analyx gave me the name
Pil Pal Witsa. In her Native American dialect it means "Butterfly".

I have always been drawn to these fascinating little creatures and they have played an important part in my writing.

One of my favourite lines from Dusk is Falling Gently, a song I wrote is:

“Oh Butterfly,
you should’ve stayed awhile
and let me trace with  hungry lips,
that space within your smile”

Here is a link to it:

Butterfly Catcher was a two part dialogue I wrote for a class in screenwriting, taught by David Milch, from Yale University. The piece was made into a short film by NAFATA (Native American Film and TV Alliance) and was also used in class to teach camera operators how to use their equipment. Eventually I wove it into a short story.

Butterfly Catcher

Through the years when I am traveling, whenever I find a butterfly habitat I make certain to visit and I am always thrilled to be able to photograph the Lepidopteras in their manmade habitats. 

My favourite one was in Vienna where the butterflies actually land on you!  They will sit contentedly on your finger while you size them up as they are sizing you up!

In March of 2012 we featured butterflies on our title page. This poem was an Ekphrastic poem based on a gorgeous photo by Peter Schefler.

Tiger Swallowtail on Autumn Verbena Just Before Sunset

I went to fetch  my daughter from school one day and found myself in a mirrored dance class room.  The next thing I knew I was dancing and this poem was born:


Another school memory was when I sent away for some caterpillar  chrysalises for my daughter's classroom.  The children were able to watch the butterflies emerge and a few days later, set them free in the school garden.


After my husband went to live with the ancestors, I spent several months alone at our fly fishing lodge in Arlington, Washington on the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River.  This was the home where we had planned to spend our retirement. On the drive back to Los Angeles this poem was born:


Again the butterfly makes a brief appearance in this poem I wrote when I visited my niece in New York. It was basically a "found poem" .  Taking objects you see and incorporating them into a poem.


In April of 2012 I needed to write a poem about a poet for the "Poets on Poets" issue.  I had recently seen his play "Blood Wedding" and decided to write about  Lorca's execution:


As a child I took great pride in collecting a full set of matchbook covers depicting different butterflies and I learnt all their names.

In my next life, if it is granted, perhaps I shall finally be a butterfly.





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