After the rain, trees burn with monarchs,
come this winter on dust-and-paper bodies.
Some of the dead cling to trash on the road,
frames of wings like frames of broken windows.
You say you never saw anything like them
in China, though you cannot say for sure.
As a girl, you leashed crickets with ox hairs
and baited bees with sweet tomato flesh.
But nothing like this, you say, like this orange.
This monarch generation lives three times
longer than its parents, than it would without
a migration to complete. They are given
time to break their bodies over mountains
and heave themselves onto warm trees
so they all might survive. Are you wondering
how much more time you have been given
to learn a language and forget a language, to break
your body over an ocean for this pale
redwood dusk and this daughter?
I know you were not drawn here to save
yourself. I cannot tell you that I have
nothing to save, nothing that waits for me
to be drawn, nothing that says, you must,
you must break your wings for this.
Melody S. Gee