Tropical Butterfly Pavilion, Seattle, Washington

Glenda zipped Trigger the Adventure Bear into
her backpack, and we stepped in with the butterflies.

We moved slowly, watched where we walked, gloried
in the flutter of so many brightly-colored creatures.

We whispered so we wouldn’t break the spell.

I focused on Glenda. A docent may have described
caring for and feeding tropical butterflies.

Nothing to it, I thought: love and attention.

I felt transported to a better world, much like
the day Glenda said she was crazy about me.

It was surely this world, but a version
where compassion and care guide actions.

Glenda allowed Trigger to hang out at my place
occasionally. She could entrust him to me, since

he was low-maintenance and didn’t require feeding.
The first night home with Trigger, I posed him

holding a black, pink and white-winged silk butterfly
in a high place where my cats couldn’t get him.

Glenda and I had five good years, became
less attentive and less careful as we drifted apart.

Trigger was a stand-in for the child we wouldn’t have.
We agreed easily that Glenda would have custody.

I kept the silk butterfly to remind me where we had been.