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occasions

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, November 26, 2018.
About this Poem 

During the years that I wrote and revised this poem, my lover, and ultimately spouse, was gravely ill. Hir medical care and my caregiving were deeply complicated by the anti-LGBTQ prejudices of some medical personnel, who certainly viewed us as ‘monsters.’ Every day for those years I took a walk to write a poem, trying to find a way to go on, a reason to even write poetry. The first draft of ‘The Cabbage Butterfly’ came from a walk I took on July 8, 2011. My beloved died in November 2014. I revised the poem four times before that loss and one time since. It is still not the final word.”
—Minnie Bruce Pratt

The Cabbage Butterfly

The human brain wants to complete—

The poem too easy? Bored. The poem too hard?
Angry. What’s this one about? Around the block
the easy summer weather, the picture-puff clouds
adrift in the blue sky that’s no paint-by-numbers.
 
In the corner garden, the cabbage butterfly
bothers the big leafy heads, trying to complete
its life cycle by hatching a horned monster to
chew holes in the green cloth manufactured so
laboriously by seed germ from air, water,
light, dirt. There’s no end to this, yes, no end.
 
Even when we want to stop, stop, stop! Even
when someone else calls us monster. Even when
we fear and hope that we will not have the final
word.

Copyright © 2018 by Minnie Bruce Pratt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Minnie Bruce Pratt. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 26, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Minnie Bruce Pratt

Minnie Bruce Pratt is the author of several poetry collections, including The Dirt She Ate: Selected and New Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), which received the Lambda Literary Award for Poetry.

by this poet

poem
Rush hour, and the short order cook lobs breakfast
sandwiches, silverfoil softballs, up and down the line. 
We stand until someone says, Yes? The next person behind
breathes hungrily. The cashier's hands never stop. He shouts:
Where's my double double? We help. We eliminate all verbs.
The
poem
          At first she thought the lump in the road
          was clay thrown up by a trucker's wheel.
          Then Beatrice saw the mess of feathers.


Six or seven geese stood in the right-of-way, staring
at the blood, their black heads rigid above white throats.
Unmoved by passing wind or familiar violence
poem
In Hollywood, California (she'd been told) women travel
on roller skates, pull a string of children, grinning, gaudy-
eyed as merry-go-round horses, brass wheeled
under a blue canopy of sky.

                                 Beatrice had never
lived in such a place. This morning, for instance, beside
Roxboro