A lepidopterist’s last words

From the age of seven, everything I felt in connection with a rectangle of framed sunlight was dominated by a single passion. ~ Vladimir Nabokov ~ “Speak, memory”

There's a chink in the shutter
and once more the door of the past
flies open. Like the pretty captive insect
it only needs a chink to emerge

A boy full of summers
pushing up through the flowers
daylight packed with endless hours 
the softest sound of butterfly nets

Such a desperation of desire
they lit. I lay each down, pinned  
to gaze and gaze upon. Entombed.
Dazzling motionless wings

Every daedal design
I took to heart. In quiet intimacy
of muffled deaths - then immortality.
I recall them all by name

There's that chink in the shutter
the door to the skies invites
detached from this bed, I'm taking flight
- "a certain butterfly is already on the wing"*

*the famous last words of Vladimir Nabokov.
For my poetics prompt “Words of departure” we are creating a deathbed poem using some famous last words and imagining the scene or creating an imaginary one to match. Nabokov was an avid butterfly collector.

29 thoughts on “A lepidopterist’s last words

  1. You took my breath away with this one, Laura. Wow! I am especially moved by; “Each daedal design I took to heart. In quiet intimacy of muffled deaths – then immortality. Gorgeous work done. Thank you so much for the glorious prompt. 💜💜

  2. Well I learn a new word today. Love the creative spin and a different perspective on this quote.
    I do recall insects and butterflies pinned, entombed for a wonderful display in the past, like an art. Now I cannot imagine killing them for our pleasure. Really admire that part of your poem – muffled deaths then immortality stanza.

  3. wonderful stuff Laura. And the clever clever rhyme scheme – I particularly liked the half rhyme in the 3rd – pinned / Entombed. And Nabokov – what a genius. So much to read, so little time.

  4. Brilliant piece; research pays off. The imagery and wordsmithing were wonderful. I liked “A boy full of summers”, and “the door to the skies’.

  5. Great tale Laura of the collector’s whims which perhaps will take a life-time of healing for a dream. A fun thing for them and a wonderful read for us.


  6. This is beautiful Laura!! I have thought about people who pin insects and tried to form a poem around my images but I think you have done it for me. This is just lovely.

  7. So very beautiful and introspective Laura. Relating to the butterflies collected, and the one whose image you project in the leaving time. Wonderful work.

  8. It doesn’t surprise me Nabokov was a butterfly collector. Your poem makes poeming look easy. Excellent pinning of an idea.

  9. This is great. The poem reminds me of how harrowing of an experience it was for me at the time, to create a bug collection as a school project. Favorite line: “Muffled deaths – then immortality.”

    1. thank you – I too have a school memory – taking a moth to the biology teach to ID and he returned it pinned in a box complete with Latin name!

  10. “A boy full of summers” “In quiet intimacy of muffled deaths – then immortality.” two absolutely mesmerizing lines that strike in very different ways.

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