30.12.05

The Butterfly.

I
Should I say that you're dead?
You touched so brief a fragment
of time. There's much that's sad in
the joke God played.
I scarcely comprehend
the words "you've lived"; the date of
your birth and when you faded
in my cupped hands
are one, and not two dates.
Thus calculated,
your term is, simply stated,
less than a day.

III
Should I say that, somehow,
you lack all being?
What, then, are my hands feeling,
that's so like you?
Such colors can't be drawn
from nonexistence.
Tell me, at whose insistence
were yours laid on?
Since I'm a mumbling heap
of words, not pigments
how could your hues be figments
of my conceit?

VII
Why were these lovely shapes
and colors given
for your one day of life in
this land of lakes?
-- a land whose dappled mir-
rors have one merit:
reflecting space, they store it.
Such brief existente tore
away your chance
to be captured, delivered,
whithin cupped hands to quiver --
the hunter's eye entrance.

X
Living too brief an hour
for fear or trembling,
you spin, motelike, ascending
above this bed of flowers,
beyond the prison space
where past and future
combine to break, or batter,
our lives, and thus
when your path leads you far
to open meadows,
your pulsing wings bring shadows
and shapes to air.

XIII
Should i bid you farewell
as to a day that's over?
Men's memories may wither,
grow thin, and fall
like hair. The trouble is,
behind their backs are:
not double beds for lovers,
hard sleep, the past,
or days in shrinking files
backstretched -- but, rather,
huge clouds, circling together,
of butterflies.

Joseph Brodsky, A Part of Speech.