Odilon Redon’s butterflies//&why they soar– in spite

i miss the lightness in their wings,
dotted thick with oil paint
yet the sky looks promising
& there’s a sense of weightlessness

my daughter texts
from Miami airport
“didn’t catch my flight& didn’t get a hotel room”
she’s stuck for another 20 hours
& i wonder if she cried
while i was sleeping
& her sister’s plane
flew into Frankfurt

home to Redon’s butterflies
is not Basel
but the New York MOMA,

someone wrapped
loads of duct tape ‘round their wings,
put ‘em in a climate box?
most probably

&they don’t look at me, yet i can feel their gaze
slowly trickling through my skin,
thin with open questions,

when they first went to the States,
did they get stuck at immigration?
after all, they’re french

&  i imagine how they soared
with tender wings
around a bull-head officer
having to leave their fingerprints
“no, pleaSe– place your thumb right in the middle,
the machine can’t read you otherwise”
cheCk//bEEeppP // iris sCan
“what you’re doing here?”
“we just hang out in a museum”
“who are you meeting?”
“why are you traveling //alone?”

the sky shines in a million colors,
i get closer
to the door,
to where all journeys start,
wanna scratch some of the paint away to see
if there’s another layer

so what was the reason?
wrong size/color/shape?
or a myriad of hidden messages
tucked careful to their oily wings

“why not pastels?” i ask
then i could blow them off the canvas
in a whiff&gentle breeze “flyFly–”
& they would spread all over me

until she made it back


for poetics today at dVerse marina sofia has us write animals as portents of good or bad news, the way we like to project our own thoughts and traits… ha..i mixed odilon redon’s butterfly painting  that i saw last weekend in an exhibit in basel with the travel adventures of my daughter who is hopefully home by tomorrow evening… smiles… see you later… pub doors open at 3pm EST


48 responses to “Odilon Redon’s butterflies//&why they soar– in spite

  1. How I wish I could paint my girls lives happily for them – instead they paint their lives while I proudly watch, ready if ever needed with a hug and an I love you.

    When the kids travel…. sigh…..

  2. I can read a lot of separation sadness in this Claudia.. your daughters growing up, but still the need they might feel.. Travel is still an ordeal, but I guess that years from now it will be fond memories… (like being stranded on a railwaystation when interrailing)…

  3. Well, one hopes that the butterflies did not get stuck in Immigration (sigh) & have to answer lots of difficult questions, when all they wanted was to get to their destination and perhaps experience a bit of freedom in their short lives, if only in their colorful minds. Even if their lives exist on canvas now, I think they have a heart…… Everything (and everyone) wants to soar a bit in its short time on earth, I think, and not be trapped (even temporarily) as your daughter is….on her journey back home. (I hate overnights in airports!)

  4. i am glad they will be home to you soon…even if you have to wait a little longer…too bad we can not slide through as easy as they do huh? i know you miss them….i like the part on being right there at the beginning of the journey and wanting to scratch away a little paint to see if there is another layer….happy reunion to you and to them…

  5. Love the use of the butterflies to express all the feelings here… really effective, and I hope your girl is able to fly away home very soon!

  6. Butterflies are beautiful and subtle animals. I like that it is the way you see your daughters today. I hope they both make it safely home and that the one who had to spend the night at the airport did not have too rough a time.

  7. And how well you project your own love of colour and freedom onto the butterflies, but also the fears and anxiety for their fragility (and your daughters flying away)! I especially liked your description of the absured little scene at immigration. So often surreal and absurd, you are so right… ‘Have you come with the intention to commit genocide?’ etc.

  8. Sad..how freeless our freedom can make us..when taken to extremes..and the flight is always my favorite representation of freedom..soaring around the sun..of golden spiral!2

  9. how sad writes between these golden lines
    “&they don’t look at me, yet i can feel their gaze
    slowly trickling through my skin,
    thin with open questions,” what a fine poetess thanks for the soar!

  10. There is a Redon in Dallas at the DMA and that’s the only one I remember seeing, though surely I must have passed one or two in the Musee d’Orsay?? But never knew of these or saw them. Really spectacular. …if I make it again to NYC, I’ll go and visit..MOMA, I’m always there on closing day. Jealous of your travels, C.

  11. I like the mixing of butterfliers migration with your daughter’s plight of being stuck in the airport or place ~ Very imaginative on the questions at the port of entry, ha ~

    Pastels would look good, smiles ~

  12. I love the images..the butterflies ..and the sky shinning in a million colors…scratching the paint away…:) I hope your daughter gets back soon safe and happy 🙂

  13. This poem gave my mind so many directions to fly off in….the perils of a daughter traveling, the images of butterflies stuck in duct tape, the fluttering free off the painting………love the lines “I get closer to the door to where all journeys start”. Stunning write, kiddo.

  14. Hi Claudia I did enjoy this poem and I did sense the anxiety of a mother for her daughters. Our children grow up and they do fly away and become there own people and in the case of my own children achieve amazing things in their respective worlds. It is at time a scary journey but exhilarating always.

  15. Oh gosh, so touching, the perfect melding of your love of Art, or Nature, of your maternal emotional separation anxiety; just adore how you take a tiny, but significant, moment in your life, and you explore several dimensions at once; I think butterflies have a short life span; tis too true of our youth, of beauty itself.

  16. Getting in and out of the US is sure a chore, be nice to just fly like a butterfly and go wherever. Sucks with the 20 hour wait indeed

  17. Love the juxtaposition (that might be my favorite word…smiles), but I digress. I truly do love the images of the butterflies, the daughters flying off, flying home, the chalk flying on your breath. This is really, really good.

  18. Had glimpse of Roden’s pastels! They’re beautiful especially the bouquets of flowers. His portraits like Picasso are purposely eerie and hideous. Wonderful write Claudia!


  19. Love this mix! My fave line: ‘wanna scratch some of the paint away to see
    if there’s another layer’ ~ haha ~ how often we compare humans with butterflies~ wish you both daughter settle down somewhere so you’re in peace; from other side – what a fun! I don’t think they are crying, they enjoy life… xx

  20. That question they always ask at US airports – something to the effect “Is it your intention to overthrow the government of the United States?” – the butterflies answered with butterfly kisses. If there’s no poem in that idea, then I’m a dutchgirl.

  21. Beautiful poem, Claudia….I’m sure they’ll come out of the situation asap. These airport transfers/immigration formalities are absolutely irritating.

  22. Lovely poem Claudia wishing to reach out to your daughter with your thoughts. As well as the many other poems what comes through with your butterflies is that people live such a regulated life of rules and obstacles whereas animals roam and birds fly free.

  23. I hear the angst and yet the excitement of having your daughters arrive home safely…love the ‘wings dotted thick with oil paint’ and hidden messages tucked in wings..really nice.

  24. this is a sweet piece. I like the idea at the end…them being done in a medium that allows for you to blow them away so they might fly free.

  25. Thank you for introducing me to this beautiful painting, although had I not seen it I would still love it from your amazing poem. Thank you, also, for introducing us to your daughter, your butterfly winging her way home.

  26. Sorry, reading top to bottom. So, this is where it all started. As I wrote before, I’m glad she’s back home. Loved the way you wrote about it as well.

    Greetings from London.

  27. curiously, Hedgewitch had a prompt on Redon, and so I’ve just been exposed to his art. when I was in Basel, those many years ago, I honestly don’t recall seeing it when I visited the museum.

    here, you capture the tense moment so well, and the questioning /waiting/tenseness before she returns at the end. ~