Orientation

By Helen Carey

When my father was twelve
he visited his sister at college,
sat in on art history classes 
and ate with the underclassmen, 
watched the way older kids moved
through that well-manicured world.

In the lepidopterist’s office, 
shallow sun leaked through the blinds,
veining walls white while my dad 
peered up at the thousands of wings 
spread against basswood as if in 
midflight, or prostration.

Head down, the professor
squinted over his glasses, tiny
blade in steady hand to cut away
a purple and yellow hindwing 
from the thorax. From a different
butterfly he cut a forewing, glued 
the parts together to create a whole
and leaned back as a painter does 
to better see negative space.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” someone asked. 
My dad nodded silently and maybe
for the first time wondered why
all beauty realized dies within
the warm, closed fist of the mind.
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About Helen Carey

Helen Carey is a twenty-something living in New York City, writing poems, and working as a copy editor and blogger. Drawing from the noisy beauty of the city, she's influenced by poets such as Maxine Kumin, Philip Levine, Tracy K. Smith, Frank O'Hara, and Louise Gluck. Helen is also a Sunday collage artist, avid hiker and traveler, and old-movie buff. Over the past few years, she's had several poems published in literary journals such as The 34th ParallelThe Aurorean, Mastodon Dentist, and Pif Magazine.

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