Image by Paul Macallan

WHIMSY

the madrigal, volume iii

River Run

by becki hawkes

But what is this thing in me, that is not like me

at all but shrugs, laughs, says oh well
there will always be rivers: come run them,

faster and faster? You cannot

cry here, because here, here
is a Buddleia, purple as heaven, laced
to the wall by the road. Search it, now
search it for butterflies. Search it again:
they are nestling in dark coiled
branches and scented spires, they are hiding
all over the city, in the light on the Thames,
in parks and on towers and outside hospital windows,
in tube station gardens and planted green graveyards
and benches for dead married couples, grieved and gone,

but beloved and beloved and beloved,
they are beating their papery river wings, thriving
on pattern, finding the source. Today a Skipper,
spiced orange and small as the top of my thumb,
is caught in a sudden downpour, just as I pause
for breath, and I cannot help but hold out
my hand, lock my fingers into an umbrella,
shield it from the violent air –
but this is a canny and weather-wise
insect, that already knows
to inch down the stem of the reed, to
hide under damp grasses, soften its shape
to leaf-secret littleness, fold undercover,
say tell us the worst, then,
wait for the gap in the sky.

Becki Hawkes lives in London (UK), loves being outside and butterflies, and has had poems published in Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Shore, Rust + Moth, Brittle Star, Pulp Poets Press, Crow & Cross Keys, Little Stone Journal, Lunate Fiction, Wrongdoing Magazine and Perhappened. Her Twitter is @BeckiH_678