Butterflies gather together along river edges to sun their wings and lick the salty rocks.
~ Todd Murray, entomologist
I have never strapped myself to cords and cables and neon kites.
I have never leaned my neoprene-wrapped body
backward on a board, tilting, swaying against the pressure,
bringing resistance into wind to loft into sky
like a boosting bird, like a curling wisp of smoke.
But I have dug my toes into hot sand and inhaled the evening air.
And I have observed the summer river - dancing with its hundreds
of kiters - a silent, distant applause of butterflies.
I have etched out stories with symbols onto paper.
I have played with the resistance and elements
and swells of language. And I have shown up for dawn patrol,
with quiet words, to unzip impermanence and let
I have been there to catch the sky cracking open its translucency
onto yesterday’s hot memories. I have handle-passed
a honey gold sun, an apricot sun, even a fried egg sun
onto the flickering light of the screen.
No I have never surfed on water, but I have schlogged
through a paragraph luff, wondering, What am I doing here?
But I licked the salty rock, and I came back again the next day,
for those moments when I am riveted downwind, with a whitecap phrase -
a butterfly in the power-zone, a moment, a blue eternity,
an ephemera, worth the words.
Yes I have dug my toes into the hot sand and inhaled the sweet night air.
But most of all, I have found that back on shore, like the butterflies,
all I need depends on no more than a deep breath, and another sunrise.
The "kiters" and the wind of The Columbia River Gorge in Washington state inspired "Butterflies," a poem featured in the Columbia Center for the Arts Plein Air 2014 gallery event and anthology.