Papillon

Performed at Artistry Cafè for the Spoke and Bird Open Mic, organized by Stephanie Dogfoot. Performance found here.

I used to think that I would want to be a butterfly.
Because I wanted to be beautiful.

I watched as a pair of wings fluttered to the ground, the body twitched and it moved no more.

A caterpillar I had in Primary School was released into the garden,
And it was eaten by a Mynah
That was eaten by Auntie Umi’s cat
Which was killed by a man named Set
Who hadn’t been paying attention to the road.

I used to think that the rite of passage into Hell was too easy.
Because my classmate told me I was going there. I wondered what it looked like.

I watched my best friend cry on my bed, my suicide foiled.

Auntie Umi’s cat was replaced by a dog
Which ran way to die
The golden jackal brought him home
And he went cold in Auntie Umi’s arms
Buried in our tiny hands on his matted fur
Then in the backyard where nothing could grow.

I used to think that I could manage being a cat.
Because my mother said “If you’re reborn as an animal, that means you’ve sinned.”

I buried Auntie Umi’s cat with flowers.

The soil on the unmarked grave turned dark and supple
And seeds found a home in the cat’s carcass
Flowers blossomed from the seeds I accidentally planted
Which brought bees to the neighbourhood
And the bees brought pollen to the mango tree my Uncle’s neighbour was trying to grow
And we ate the mangoes and planted the seeds.

I used to think that I was lucky to be alive.
Because I fell in love with a girl who gave me butterflies in my stomach.

I tried to give her butterflies, but she kept giving them back.

The butterflies she gave me faded away
Where a new love gave me new butterflies that faded too
Which were replaced with caterpillars learning to fly
Which were born from the first time he said “I love you”
Then the cocoons burst and the butterflies came and laid more eggs and then died,
And the eggs became caterpillars learning to fly.

I used to think I would want to be a butterfly.
But I think I would rather let them live in my stomach.

I watched life end begin end begin, the remains of that cat decomposing, not embalmed like the dog’s had been.

I turn my back on both, in pursuit of another butterfly.

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