Los monarcas descend on Michoacan
around the Day of the Dead and
legend has it that the monarchs are
returning souls of those departed.

These butterflies bunch together on
the limbs of Oyamel firs that slump
into living arches with countless
wings humming like electric wires.

Chainsaws break the trance not far
from here, yet the monarchs do what
they must do since time and life wove
themselves together watertight.

Soon boots are crunching along not
at all worried about alerting wildlife
to their presence and the first spray
of shredded bark hits plants like confetti.

These Monarchs make no sudden
moves not even when their sanctuary
of an arch hits the forest floor, not even when
their fellow travelers are killed and then

buried by the one thing that offered safe
harbor; they just tilt their lilt bodies
to the heavy sun now visible thanks
to the vanishing army of metal wings.

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Joseph Briggs

Joseph Briggs lives in, and can't get enough of, Madison, WI, USA. His work has appeared in Verse Wisconsin, Mobius, Black -N-Blue, Echolocations: Poets Map Madison (anthology), and Bitterzoet Magazine.

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