I ran in a field of wildflowers,
waving a butterfly net, three
yards of gauzy fabric stitched

to the looped rim of a hanger
stapled to a broom handle.
By summertime my father

had already left with his
beautiful mistress. Mother
stayed inside and loafed, said

she could not watch my tiny
murders. The field held lemon
lilies, day lilies aflame in orange

and red, buttercups, purple
clover, and wild roses with
thorns that cut my arms.

I caught a black swallowtail,
monarch, fritillary and mourning
cloak, a painted lady. I learned

how to sneak up on a butterfly,
its long tubular tongue uncoiled
inside a flower, and pinch the

folded wings between my thumb
and index finger. I dropped each
hostage onto a wad of Clorox-

soaked cotton inside the kill jar.
I observed the flutter of wings,
the wiggling thorax, and when

the wiggling stopped, I placed
the butterfly on a felt mounting
board. I stuck a straight pin

precisely into the center
of the thorax and eased
the wings apart. Broken

wings or missing antennae
would lose points. I prepared a
data label for each butterfly—name,

date of capture, location—then slid
the bodies inside a shadow box.
The pin-pricked fingers, wasp

stings, and blood on my arms
were what I paid for my first
A in science. All that summer

I ran like something wild and left
my multi-colored fingerprints
on everything I touched.