Migration Midpoint: What We Can See From Here

by David Williams

We can’t see the warm,
rising spirals of air
these monarch butterflies ride,

or their caterpillar selves filled up
with leaves of silk-thread milkweed
way back in New Brunswick,

or the dense, silk drapes
their gathering will make
in the firs of Michoacan.

From here, we can see
their wind-torn, stubborn
lines joined by one desire—

to fulfill the journey
and set out fresh,
as they have since

long before we scratched
our claims on sky and earth.
Fragile, essential, monarchs pass

reflected in your fresh eyes.
We hear wings in your voice
when you whisper




David Williams is the author of Traveling Mercies (Alice James Books). His work is anthologized in Poetry from the Amicus Journal, edited by Peter Borelli and Brian Swann (Natural Resources Defense Council), What Have you Lost? edited by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow/Macmillan), and Stories from Where We Live: The Gulf Coast edited by Sara St. Antoine (Milkweed Editions), in which this poem appeared.