Camphor, Sun, and Tattered Wings

I usually get an hour for my lunch break. There are a million ways to spend an hour, and today I wandered down to the bay front, leisurely, taking my time. It’s hot out, but not too hot. Just enough to feel sweat down your back but not at your brow.

I approached the camphor tree, the old matriarch of the campus, singing songs I’d not sung since I took voice lessons. The vocal chords don’t stretch quiet as far as they used to. It was no matter, though, as I clambered up the smooth-barked tree to perch a bit. The gulls fleshed out my songs. The air was still, when a movement caught my eye.

Fluttering, drifting, a brown-black butterfly picked its way through the air to dance about the boughs of the camphor tree. I held out my hand, and though it floated close, it never landed on me. A band of hazy blue dusted the lower part of its wings, visible only up close, and yellow driplets spattered its wings like speckles of light. My gaze couldn’t be torn from it, until… I looked up, and the tree was filled with butterflies. Not two or three, but a dozen, maybe twenty pairs of brown-black wings trip-traipsing about, courting the branches. My world was filled with wings.

It was a slow aching thing to climb down the tree to return to work. But even as I walked back, the autumn’s rust colored dragonflies trailed in my wake.

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