Newton’s Butterfly

Mary-Kim Arnold

there is no time except that we make it

the years gave Newton a butterfly made of glass

on the beach, a woman walks past dragging a chair by a white rope

the other end of rope tied to the wrist of a girl

girl who shakes her head like a mad dog

girl who is holding a bit of fabric in her mouth

one pant leg rolled up and soaked with ocean water

orange ball adrift on the crest of a wave

orange light these end days

these days are the end of us

she has a face that one remembers from a dream

rounded soft a child’s eyes

she draws her fingernails across her thigh

I look up again and they are not where they were

there is an apple of light left in the afternoon sky

and I think of you, miles away

your sky stretched thin and yellow like harbor glass

you sit at the table collecting moth wings

collecting strips of masking tape to hold it all together

what swells in me, in the bowl of my belly

what lifts

an orange ball of light

an orange lock

the way to understand the location of your bones

is to feel where each of them is burning
space break

Traveler With Top Coat

– after Anne Carson

yes you are a spectral light, a traveler among the constellations
but you take your meals in topcoat and gray gloves
even in the great heat
you float through the archways
you take your hat
Do you look away
Do you clasp your hands
Are you asking or telling
Why do you ask
What I mean to say is that
you leave no traces of your body in my vision
your limbs form paragraphs justified at the margins
stay here, stay with me
this is not the time for stepping back from the vertical drop
all adornments blown back against the wind
objects, illuminated
your spectral light enveloping
and these objects?
Now it rises – this life you could have lived
no longer possible
time makes its relentless path across the sky
but if I lower myself to the ground I can feel the vibrations
of the child I once was
the teeming seas I crossed to reach you
crossing for hours
clasping the hands of my fellow travelers
hold them, I am told, and so I do.
You will need each other, we are told and so
we do.
What I mean to say is that your gray gloves fit my hands without
alteration. What I mean to say is your voice
wraps me like your wool topcoat
and I clutch it
even in such heat

Mary-Kim Arnold‘s writing has appeared online at Tin House, The Rumpus, Two Serious Ladies, HTML Giant, and elsewhere. She has fiction forthcoming in The Pinch Journal and poems forthcoming at burntdistrict. She received her MFA from Brown University and lives in Rhode Island. She blogs at and is on twitter: @mkimarnold.