Mariposa Monarca
by Paulette Turco
Monarch Butterfly

In waves of orange, sable, millions lift,
take flight aloft beside the ocean’s mouth,
undulating high—the swell, a gift
above Quebec, Cape Cod, Cape May, and south.
Then west—they feed and mount a Gulf coast run.
Their fragile wings glide high on thermal air.
The earth’s magnetic pull, the setting sun
guide the Monarchs’ wings, and if they fare,
above the plains to mountain crests, in whirs
around, atop, warm giant oyamel firs.
By Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead,
they fold their tired wings—in prayer it’s said—
then fall to sleep. Weighed branches bend, some break,
from clustered clumps the Mariposas make.

Come March, the Mariposas stir awake
atop Sierra Cinque’s soaring peak—
a climb true lepidoptera lovers make
to see one hundred million wing pairs beat
above—aim north. They mimic light spring rain.
Their silhouetted bodies float and fade—
mate in Texas—then cross wide terrain,
lay eggs on milkweed under-leaves. Sparse shade
and dwindling fields greet more new wings, in flight
toward eastern coasts, that after miles alight
on milkweed leaves. Eggs hatch. Then larvae feast,
then morph to wings that finally reach northeast.
Yet—females must lay hundreds, one by one,
Or this Monarca odyssey’s … undone.

First published in Merrimac Mic Anthology II: Going with the Floes, Editor
Isabell VanMerlin, 2016 and was reprinted in her chapbook, In Silence (Finishing Line
Press, 2018)

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