Today I’m four and go to market
——–with my mother, she buys lilies

for the imaginary pool I colour in,
——–cuts grapefruit skin

into boats, unzips the husks
——–of each segment & lays them down–

naked bodies on
——–floating rafts. Waxy limbs protect

from sinking. How skin survives
——–a boat ride.


Tonight I read about
——–Monarch butterflies flying south

each year–3,000 miles
——–from Canada to Mexico, from milkweed

to wildflower. Not one completes the journey.
——–Only the children return.

Now, the Monarchs are symbolic of
——–Migration. America is full of gossamer

carcasses, flitting fragility between falling
——–bullets. There is nothing of butterfly

in my mother. I stop believing in


Lately I’m concerned by wings.
——-A week after my grandmother

dies, I dream
——-a head emerges from my own

womb, ashen, except its lips, at which
——-a tattooed starling is fixed

in cochineal. Insect wings ground-up
——-for paste. Later, I begin

EMDR treatment. I am cold as a fish
——-memory of the time it takes to cross the Atlantic

twice & end up right where I started,
——-with a woman yelling

go back to where you come from, her words
——-purpling the dusk.


Maia Elsner reads Cochineal wings