Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Nicanor Butterfly

NICANOR BUTTERFLY

--for Nicanor Parra


The woods nearby have vanished.
Where shall the heart go
to see the butterfly, to die?
Yet bread cooks in a few
new furnaces around
the globe, and at Las Cruces
the poet has not quite
split the atom or woman.

The butterfly’s resplendence
remains a metaphor
realized only in language,
while he speaks still,
takes notes but will not travel—
for what?—nor draw
stick figures with conundrums,
but writes and writes

infinite series of notes,
claps his hands and waves
like the Pope
to the schoolchildren
who spot him
on the porch shouting
“Nicanor, Nicanor,
Idolo, Idolo”

while the waves crash
on somebody else’s
beach, at Las Cruces
the poet returns
to the sitting room
to have afternoon tea
served by two
tea maidens.

Indran Amirthanayagam, Chile, April 2005