She Is a Pupa, Soft and White

She is white, legs immobile,
tapering on the sheets,
her white gown pulled
above the soft masses of her thighs,
head shaven, small and white
on the pillow.

She is a pupa, soft and white,
curled at the heel where the muscles
won’t work that side
of the body. That hand, curled,
rests on a sheet to keep the fingernails
from digging into her belly.
Only her voice says
catch-me-if-you-can, like the time
before her sickness
when she disappeared for days
and we found her in the soup lines
at St. Michael’s.

The nurse asks me to help smooth
the sheets under her, and as we turn
her toward me, a butterfly
tattoo needled in blue
above a blue moon, appears to rise
from her gown’s folds
and to crest, wings open
on the horizon of her thigh.

Originally Appeared in The Comstock Review
Published by the Comstock Writers’ Group

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