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Wednesday, August 03, 2022


by Mary K O'Melveny

Do you remember the noise of my wings?
A lace veil as it flirts with a summer breeze.
A blade of grass as it shakes off morning dew.
In Mexico, a million of us sound like waterfalls.
At rest, we cling to tree limbs like gold, onyx,
ivory jewelry that has been hidden from thieves.
We fly high above sleeping migrants everywhere,
whose hopes pirouette in zephyrs and exospheres
as they dream of flight patterns to safety.
Do you recall the first time you saw one of us?
How you were awed by our delicate wings, how
we landed like a first kiss on a purple cone flower? 
How you imagined what it would be like to float,
unfettered, without apology? Without accountability?
How it takes so little to ignite imagination’s fiery call.
Our journeys from your garden to jungle sanctuaries
span generations. Some days the ground is littered
with bodies that resemble coins from Spanish galleons.
I have been airborne for 2,500 miles. I have traversed
obstacles my ancestors never knew: poisoned fields,
droughts, drones and planes, wildfires, clearcut forests.
Still, think of that moment of lift, when air currents
lick your skin as a lover might. Always optimists,
we remain your ardent guides to Elysian Fields.

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.