trout [ 6 ]
Richard Smith: [1 , 2 ]
  Before the fact, and after 

A boy leans  
over a cast-iron fence.  
One hand extends  
to a Swan plant, the other  
grips a spike for balance.  

A monarch butterfly’s  
barbed legs wrap around  
a stem. Its black-veined wings  
are pressed together between  
the child’s thumb and finger.  

A man approaches and pauses,  
he folds his arms. The fact is 
once you touch their wings  
they’ll never fly again. The boy  
does not move. The man does not leave. 

Fingertips part. Wings hinge open  
orange and black. The butterfly  
lurches out of reach, tacking  
against the breeze then glides  
easily over a house. 

The man frowns,  
recognises his shoes  
and walks away.  

  © 1999 

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