CHARLES VENABLE

★ ★ ★ ★

POETRY

Found in the Corner of a Child’s Notebook

How many butterflies
Would it take to carry me away?

Take off my shoes
And lay the laces in a line—
I like being barefoot:

My toes curl in the grass
And milkweed drooling
White tears; mama says

They’re sad when butterflies
Fly away for the winter
Looking for warmer weather.

All the weeds want
is for them to stay
all year long.

How many butterflies
Would it take to carry me away?

Catching butterflies is hard:
They don’t fly in straight lines.
Is it because their wings are round?

They flutter between the flowers
Behind the house
Where daddy never mows.

This meadow is home to the
cigarette butts that burn my feet
Pecked apart by the birds

With wings and feathers:
They fly in straight lines,
But I want to wander.

How many butterflies
Would it take to carry me away?

When I catch the butterflies
In the net mama gave me,
Pinch them between my fingers

Feel the scales fall off like pollen
Like milkweed tears, and
Wind my shoelaces around them.

Tie them to my fingers like
Mama’s wedding ring—
I see her turning it sometimes

When daddy sits in the yard;
His cigarette smoke curls,
And the butterflies fly away.

How many butterflies
Would it take to carry me away?

If it’s only three or four,
When I hide them in my bag,
Maybe they will lift me

Carry me out of this meadow,
Our of daddy’s arms,
Take me south to where they

Cover the trees—
Gilded with red and yellow
Like the autumn we abandoned.

When I untie the shoelaces,
And they fly off to join their friends;
I wonder if mama is okay with daddy.

Charles Venable is a storyteller from the Southeastern United States with a love of nature and a passion for writing. He believes stories and poems are about getting there, not being there, and he enjoys those tales that take their time getting to the point.

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