Darla Mottram

Why Arms if Not for Reaching

Someone is barbecuing & the smell gets everywhere.
Smoke carries: we are hungry
for flesh we don’t have.
Deep in my dark it is safe to admit
I’m worth more when I’m stranded
inside myself, my own
fickle thoughts.

A self is weeping
in the tree behind the art building. Other selves
frolic in the high grass, then fuck. They spread out like butterflies,
a slow explosion of softening colors—a future
there, another, another—

the viceroy monarch painting
the field with movement.
Perched on a fence is a mother—moth-grey, anonymous.
I barely notice the frenzied beating
of the Spicebush Swallowtail, its black silk,
its turquoise tips,

until it alights atop my ankle.
Rests in plain view. I know
to reach for it is to lose it.
All around me the world hums its lush song.
It is summer. I hold still
as a blade of grass.


Darla Mottram breathes & writes poems (not necessarily in that order) in Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University. Her poems have appeared elsewhere, & are forthcoming.