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They always seem like the same ones
Two, three, four or five of them
First in a hedgerow near Assisi,
Then under the lime trees in Foligno,
Now in the conifers by the house,

Pert, crimson-cheeked, opening
Veined butterfly wings
And flashing yellow
Like a ribbon in dark hair,

One moment they perch to crane and peer
Then like children in a game they spur
Each other into flight, bouncing
Like raindrops, chinking like beads,
Weightless as wind-blown leaves.

They never seem to feed but to exist
On air in air, translucent,
Ubiquitous as dreams, sparks
In perpetual motion without origin
Or aim.

The atmosphere records
Their passage as a flash
Of jewels then
Like spirits they move on.

by Damaris West

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