Poetry by Leanne Grabel
A small white butterfly appears
every time I go in the backyard.
A cabbage white.
The butterfly follows me around like a puppy.
I’m sure it’s my mother.
She is the only one I know who fluttered.
It gives me hope.
My mother seems happy
The top of an enormous fir lives outside my bathtub window.
If I squint I can see almost everything in its branches
especially in the spaces between.
I see my dead dog’s face. I’m sure it’s her
but she’s jumping. She didn’t jump in real life.
She’s so happy.
I see my father and Nanny and Poppy.
Sylvia Plath is in that tree. Leonard Cohen.
Raul Julia. Even Chadwick Boseman.
Crickets do handstands on Clydesdales in that tree.
I’m not kidding.
Rhinos wear turbans. Hippos smoke cigarettes. Pelicans eat fish.
And my parents again. They’re so happy
so light they actually frolic.
I guess the dead know no pain.
Then last Saturday I saw branches in thrall.
They were thrusting right into each other
so slowly from behind.
I tell you that tree has answers
and phenomenal skills of mimicry.
I ask you–
Is this religion? Have I turned Druid?
Leanne Grabel is a writer, illustrator, and retired special education teacher IN LOVE with mixing literary genres. She has written and produced numerous multimedia shows, including “The Lighter Side of Chronic Depression” and “Anger: The Musical.” Her graphic memoir, Tainted Illustrated, was most recently serialized in THE OPIATE. She and her husband founded the ’90s poetry hub Café Lena. Grabel is the 2020 recipient of the Bread and Roses Award for contributions to women’s literature, and she just recently finished both a collaboration with filmmaker Penny Allen on an illustrated novel and a year of monthly columns of illustrated, somewhat-political essays for Another Chicago Magazine.