Butterflies and Other People

For two years, I lived on the edge of woods, on the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee, between a sewage plant, an American Indian burial ground, and the state mental hospital.

Outside my house I saw a butterfly, the most radiant being I had ever seen — blue and black and ivory, incandescent. A friend later identified it as a spicebush swallowtail.

The lifetime of Papilio Troilous is, at most, about 14 days, so the one I met has been dead for many butterfly lifetimes.

I look at my email contacts list, and see the addresses of friends who are dead. I don’t delete them, and I don’t know why.

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