Spring 2008, Volume 4

Poetry by Patricia Seyburn

Once More on Free Will

Whether the painted lady needs to fly
to fulfill its mandate or, waiting for
clement weather, will die in our toystore
habitat, my daughter performs

the best sort of interpretive dance,
the unconscious, unselfconscious kind,
mimicking our guest's fits and starts as it finds
her wrist then darts toward

the ivy where it spies another of its ilk,
another home-grown survivor
and since its brain cannot store ire
or gratitude, since the word

flutter moves in odd geometries about us,
we witness the folding body's translation
of the movement from fettered to un-,
begetting that twist in the gut we recognize

not as the mourning of chosen limits
but as envy unalloyed. Are we better off?
We cut and paint a rose petal
with sugar-water to feed our charge

named for itself in Spanish. The word
mariposa sounds like the thing,

she tells me, her ward's wings
displacing the air. She chooses

attachment and treason
sadness. The creature leaves us for good
for leaves unknown and my daughter cries -
cold comfort, the gift of reason.

BIO:  Patricia Seyburn has published two books of poems: Mechanical Cluster (Ohio State University Press, 2002) and Diasporadic (Helicon Nine Editions, 1998). She is a professor at Cal State Long Beach and co-editor of POOL: A Journal of Poetry, based in Los Angeles.