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He Kills Butterflies
Sarah Lilius

He kills butterflies
with bare hands.

Beauty snuffed out
by two swollen bowls 

of skin, of callused
and red, always red.

The first time I saw
my eyes welled salty,

my ears imagined
a butterfly scream

delicate as wings
yet terrified.

He has no reason.
I turn to leave

with a flutter of legs
and a graceful show

of curls, of two eyes
tired of watching

the catch, the hard
squeeze and then 

the eager look on his face.
Nothing like those wings

midflight on a summer
day, nature’s grandeur,

an insect revered.
I dream of beating wings
and the butterfly
is free.

Sarah Lilius lives in Arlington, VA with her husband and two sons. She is a poet and an assistant editor for ELJ Publications. Some of her publication credits include the Denver Quarterly, Court Green, BlazeVOX, Bluestem, and Hermeneutic Chaos. She is also the author of the chapbook What Becomes Within (ELJ Publications 2014). Her website is 

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