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The butterflies have been here through it all
my sadness and my happiness as well.
No matter what is going on or how I feel
at the very center of my poor self
is a wanting to be filled by something
beautiful. A simple slice of the knife
would end it all. The blind man and his wife
pass by holding hands. He fans himself and sings
Auld Lang Syne in Chinese, but the sound of
the tune lets me know what he means. Daylight
begins moving on the limbs and invites
a fluttering that comes to make me sob
whether I want to or not. All I know’s
a butterfly comes, a butterfly goes.



I first wrote this sonnet in China at a hotel on the campus of Wuhan University one morning at sunrise hearing a blind man walk by on his early morning walk with his wife going to the Olympic Field, one of the tracks used by the faculty to exercise.
This was the summer of 2008. I had just learned some sad news from the States; my job was in jeopardy and even worse, my mother was very sick. And here I was in China not able to do very much about anything although my life as I had known it was going to change.

Outside my hotel window were some high bushes that were visited by butterflies every morning. I would watch them while I practiced guitar and there was something very harmonious with their fluttering and my fingers on the strings that made me feel connected to everything.Those butterflies, I really began to depend on them.

Last night at a showing of my friend Judith Braun’s work, beautiful penciled pieces that were delicate with what you might call wings in them, I sat outside the gallery on a bench in the slushy cold working on this sonnet because even though several years had passed, it wasn’t finished. I was saying the poem out loud, all about the sound, hearing how it went, working for the just right ebb and flow of vowels and consonants.

How long does it take to finish something? I always feel an unrest when I look at my work if it really isn’t finished even if it looks finished and that it was I’ve said. Just because you say something is finished doesn’t mean it is.

Judith Braun

Judith Braun


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