the last piece of st. louis


she picks me up

just before eleven,

talk over our favorite thai,

and the last time for years

I will ride down this highway like this


the butterfly house

there is something that makes it art

me leaving home and

all those wings


we walk through

a piece of st. louis

(the last piece of st. louis

somehow I keep having to tell myself that)

and the years paint all these colors

on the butterflies,

on my hands

and the unforgiving heat rises from all the pictures we take

and I remember all of this from when I was little

but also none of it

I am seeing it from a new height and

a new angle


they tell us

we can release a new one into the room

hand us a jar-

she is a pink rose

dark all down her back,

reddish pink spots underneath

so bright they look neon


we open the jar and she does not leave

we spend ten minutes gently tapping her out

into the open,

onto a flower

we spend so long

watching her sit unmoving-

this one is apparently her favorite

but I don’t think she’s realized

what you taught me

the world is opening up for her and

you will still be waiting


the world is bigger than where she puts her feet


I look up down at my mother

and there she is,

the one I have always wanted to be,

smaller than me and still just as important

and we are running the world

from opposite sides of it

and we are crying and cheering

as much as before

and we are still back in the butterfly house

just as much ourselves as we have always been

as long as she’s known me


I turn over my shoulder as we leave,

looking for the pink rose.

suddenly she is in the sky.

and I am too.

Author's Notes/Comments: 

Written 5/3/22

Mother's Day

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patriciajj's picture

"the butterfly house there is

"the butterfly house

there is something that makes it art

me leaving home and

all those wings"


The symbolism and delicate genius of this work will leave anyone who has ever had this kind of connection with their mother breathless.


I'm completely smitten by this one-of-a-kind Mother's Day tribute, perhaps one of the best I've ever read..