I, Up they soar

Inger Christensen

I

Up they soar, the planet's butterflies,
pigments from the warm body of the earth,
cinnabar, ochre, phosphor yellow, gold
a swarm of basic elements aloft.

Is this flickering of wings only a shoal
of light particles, a quirk of perception?
Is it the dreamed summer hour of my childhood
shattered as by lightning lost in time?

No, this is the angel of light, who can paint
himself as dark mnemosyne Apollo,
as copper, hawkmoth, swallowtail.

I see them with my blurred understanding
as feathers in the coverlet of haze
in Brajcino Valley's noon-hot air.

From Butterfly Valley: A Requiem by Inger Christensen. Copyright © 1989 by Inger Christensen at Broendums Forlag; © 2004 by Susanna Nied. Reprinted by permission of New Directions. All rights reserved.

Inger Christensen

by this poet

poem
3
cicadas exist; chicory, chromium 
citrus trees; cicadas exist; 
cicadas, cedars, cypresses, the cere-
bellum

4
doves exist, dreamers, and dolls; 
killers exist, and doves, and doves; 
haze, dioxin, and days; days 
exist, days and death; and poems 
exist; poems, days, death