- Vol. 09
- Chapter 04
My brothers died in trenches. I succumbed to a nasty bacteria, but this is not a sad story.
When my brothers hid behind baroque fountains, stone vestals, beneath olive drapery, milkweed butterflies kissed my tear-stained face and, like a swarm of swallows, led me home.
When the allies stormed over the Eternal City, grandmother began storytelling. Our knees became feet, our bodies like armadillos without armour, eyes masked fear, fixed on the fractured foundations. Grandmother was always concise and so were her stories.
"Butterflies flap their wings rapidly and orbit the lifeless, open the gateway to another earthly adventure. The soul begins its immortality, navigating between heaven and earth and our universe."
Despite amethyst rosary beads peeping through mountains of rubble, grandmother’s words like her sun-bleached arms felt warm. While the stages of grief had already begun through the dusty streets of Rome, butterflies hovered over shades of grey, beige and black, spreading hues of hope and peace. The antithesis to the visible and tangible devastation playing before our eyes.
When Father Pietro read the Eternal Prayer, I lifted my heavy eyelids. Shimmering, wiggling antennae faced my bed, ebony eyes observed the room of faces veiled in black lace. I wearily counted ten. My ten winged friends rolled out their proboscises like a red carpet for distinguished guests. The monarchical disciples rescinded the requiem. My butterflies performed a fluttered frenzy as if a field of delicious milkweed awaited their hungry palates. Rest in peace – ha! If butterflies could talk.
So here I am. My soul does not rest. It travels. Navigates places of wilting wilderness and tears return because souls have feelings too. But when a child runs out of hospital ready to chase butterflies in fields of red, green, yellow and blue, my eyes become golden moons filled with wonder and happiness.