The rock garden reminded my mother
that thirst is a perennial stream, waves
raked in the gravel years ago or yesterday.
The boulders preserved no memory
of our motel room, the day’s water cut at noon,
my mother warming on the stove a pail’s worth
to bathe me. Instead, the standing stones
fossilized a butterfly like the one I imagined
when my mother made a metaphor of divorce--
she was a Great Purple; my father, a lizard
too heavy to lift over a river. My mother had assured
herself that there were plenty lizards, rivers,
and all too pert butterflies, one of which escaped
the allegory, flapping its way to the rock garden.
As if in a courtship display,
the butterfly’s scabrous suitors extended
their gorgets; she, in fear, her wings.
From what earthen pore, like these lizards,
had dalliance reared itself? My mother simpered
at her new boyfriend; he could not yet leave
the rock garden and its arid nature, nor I his.
That night, in the motel room, he’d shower
in our last ration of water, the butterfly
waiting for dew to pool in the rake’s trail.
This poem was written during a residency with the Harn Museum of Art in 2022.
Alejandro Aguirre was a finalist for the Atlanta Review’s Dan Veach Prize for Younger Poets, and his poems have been published in Rattle, I-70 Review, Hawai’i Pacific Review, and elsewhere. In 2022, Alejandro served as a poet in residence, alongside Debora Greger, at the Harn Museum of Art. www.alejandromaguirre.com
The Ekphrastic Review
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