Little Mutable
Judith H. Montgomery

Little Mutable

++++++++++++++++++++++++at the Cockrell Butterfly Center,
++++++++++++++++++++++++Houston Museum of Natural Science

After the dark narrow tunnel has yielded us
++++up, we enter the great crystal chamber—three-
storied flicker and loft, harp-strung in sun—
++++++++into waver of shadowlace, green swerve
of palm twining lush spiral ginger, habitat
++++for the fantastic—
++++++++++++++++++++and they appear, reappear,
hosts of butterflies flare through the damp
++++++++press of air, sheltered by intricate glass,
by skeletal struts holding the outer world
++++at bay.
+++++++++++Within, fluting shimmer—Rice Paper,
Blue Clipper, Red Peacock—little mutable
++++++++flames, they glide leaf to leaf as we, briefly
let off from treatment, stunned quiet
++++by cancer,
+++++++++++++glide in luxurious light, afloat
in paradise, new-drunk on pink flowerspike,
++++++++on corpse flower’s purple-ruffed splay, on
sheer color, sky-swath and caramel camouflage
+++++++++++++blooming the air where we’ve been permitted
back into the garden.
++++++++++++++++++++For one breath, two, a Blue
++++Morpho’s deep gleam lights, holds, on your folded-up
sleeve. Our guide murmurs psyche, soul, its resting,
++++++++its—might we say blessing—and I wish
stay O stay
+++++++++++but we have our return appointments,
++++must pass back again through the dark—
this, only this: a radiance
+++++++++++still seems to cling to your sleeve—

Judith H. Montgomery

has contributed to Bellingham Review, Tahoma Literary Review, and Poet Lore, among other journals. Her first collection, Passion, received the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her fourth book, Litany for Wound and Bloom, was a finalist for the Marsh Hawk Prize and appeared in August 2018 from Uttered Chaos Press. Her prize-winning narrative medicine chapbook, Mercy, was published by Wolf Ridge Press in March 2019.