There were always skippers on the ice plant,
a half-inch long, the color of butterscotch
and not very fast. We could pinch their wings
between thumb and index finger and liked
to feel the fluttering against our palms
as we held them in our cupped hands. Later
we smeared their golden dust on our cheeks.
We never thought they might be important:
they were like moths — a lower order of things,
not like real butterflies, or even dragonflies,
which we rarely saw, or fireflies, which
were probably only in books. There were lizards
too, small and brown and fast and when we tried
to catch them, we sometimes ended up
with just a tail between our fingers,
and sometimes saw one missing a tail
and tried to examine that place
that was wounded but not bloodied
and wondered if we could do that too,
leave behind some part that would grow back,
not yet understanding the scraped wings of the heart
or the oozing scars of love.
J.I. Kleinberg’s poems have been published in print and online journals worldwide. An artist, poet, freelance writer, and three-time Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, she lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA, and on Instagram @jikleinberg.