the re-wilding

In monarchs’ overwintering groves, there were once so many butterflies that
the sound of their wings was described as a rippling stream or a summer rain.

Center for Biological Diversity


Small child, dark husband, roving hand, the man who discovered
places in me that no man should discover so early; first whispers of
marriage innocent and pained; my two children requiring more
comfort but pushing me away. A girl inside the woman
still seeking some flicker of love in the eyes of her inaugural abusers.

These companions of soft soul and sweat and the many nights
I felt them traverse up the stalk of my body to milk me
of nourishment until I had nothing left to deem a living body.
What beautiful cocoons we make of our grief.

I bear out each narrative thread by the warmth of my own persistence,
poems that pool into a risk of imaginal cells. If I told you the monarch
was a puddle before it winged, its liquid frame
in no way resembling the hoary worm that ate—and was eaten—
for the sake of its restyling, would you believe me?

Every seven years nearly all our human cells are replaced.
I remember all of my old pains. Seven years have passed poem by poem
by poem, lone tears digested, wombed needs—no community
of wings. And now I hold this creature lightly in my hands, the air
scented with indifference, look up into the sky, open.

Kimberly Ann Priest

KIMBERLY ANN PRIEST is the author of Slaughter the One Bird (Sundress 2021) and the chapbooks Still Life (PANK, 2020), Parrot Flower (Glass 2020), and White Goat Black Sheep (FLP 2018). Her poetry has appeared in several literary journals including The Laurel Review, RiverSedge, and The Berkeley Poetry Review and she is a winner of the 2019 Heartland Poetry Prize in the New Poetry from the Midwest anthology by New American Press. A former book reviewer for NewPages and intern with Sundress Publications, she is currently Assistant Professor of First-Year Writing at Michigan State University, and an associate poetry editor for the Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry and Embody reader for The Maine Review.

Contributions by Kimberly Ann Priest