Saint Julian Press Poet
Ron Starbuck - Author and Poet
The Monarch (Anam Cara)
Landing lightly she came as a revelation, a benediction,
enfolded in the rich ginger and auburn of her Monarch wings.
A mystery whose color I cannot clearly disclose or discern,
reminding me of a near friend, whose most intimate looks and gestures
are a language unto her own, one we share in wonder filled moments
together. Uncovering veiled places, which can never be denied,
as time releases a newness that cannot easily be named
or found in all the known colors of this earth. In the Monarch's
flight, she binds us together softly
upon wings that barely touch, so delicate in appearance
and beauty they simply break open our own hearts revealing
their truest majesty. We have learned to be brave together,
fearless in spirit, in a garden held independent of time.
She takes my breath, folding it into her own with the
brightness of her being.
And of us together, giving us breath, as we dwell in
one another, as one body in one motion. In the
delicate flow of the Monarch’s wings,
in her softness, her gentleness, as she
opens to me. Is not each star a witness to this
unity? I love the color and shape of her eyes,
and how they capture mine, and how I see a reflection
of her always in me, waiting like spring, when the milkweed
blossom opens itself as a mystery to the first Monarch.
In this poem, the poet intentionally blurs, mirrors, and merges the butterfly and the person together, leaving you wondering, which lines are describing either one. They may often seem like they are the same, breathing together with the same breath. The butterfly in many cultures and faiths is a symbol of the soul, the human psyche, and of an emerging consciousness, symbolic of immense spiritual growth and transformation. We may find a reflection of ourselves in both the monarch butterfly and those who we are closest to in this life. Here the butterfly as soul and spirit is touching on the healing and transformative power of friendship and love.
In Christianity, the butterfly is a symbol of the resurrection, as it disappears into its cocoon, into stillness, silence, and darkness, to emerge later wholly transformed, more beautiful and spiritually evolved than before. In this, the butterfly is a symbol of God’s grace, even tenderness. It is seen especially around Easter, as a symbol of hope and love, and the power of transformation in our lives. It also draws upon language found in Christian Liturgy that sees Christ and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us all, and a spiritual indwelling within one another, Perichoresis; “be filled with thy grace and heavenly benediction, and made one body with him, that he may dwell in us, and we in him. (BCP – Rite I)” "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us (John 17:21)."
On the Anam Cara and the power of friendship: John O'Donohue (Irish Poet and Priest) - "The anam cara was a person to whom you could reveal the hidden intimacies of your life. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. When you had an anam cara, your friendship cut across all convention and category. You were joined in an ancient and eternal way with the friend of your soul." The term was greatly popularized by his bestselling work of the same name, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, HarperCollins, 1997, p. xviii.
The Monarch is a poem about two such friends, kindred spirits, soul friends. Our own life may intersect the life of another at any time in a moment of spiritual intimacy and sincere friendship that is transcending and transforming, that takes us beyond the boundaries of our everyday self, pointing us towards a higher self, and the unlimited infinite potential of the self. Such friendships and encounters, even short ones, are to be valued for what they are in that moment, a gift from the heavens.