A week before reading of the sad incident in the paper
I have a dream in which I pick orange day-lily petals from the floor,
try to eat them, and choke. According to my friend Clare
I am already dead, unable to swallow the fact
of the brevity of life: yes.

In the park my dog and I examine a butterfly as blue
as human milk, rows of jet points pricking
out the edges of its wings. My dog twitches forward
and swallows it. A red-eyed cicada crashes into my ear
and blunders off; for seventeen years it has plotted
its splendor of green and ruby stripes.
The caterpillar on our path, immaculate
in orange lines tricked out with black jewels, rests.
My dog eats a cigarette.

On the way home I tell my neighbor Kay the title of my poem;
she thinks it will be about the child in the News-Journal
who choked on a piece of orange and died.
I didn’t know it, but it is, it is.