theme-variations-plate-96-butterfly
Chrysalis
by Elizabeth Vrenios

I shut the door and leave,
            shivering in the naked wind.
In the half-lidded windows,
a face watches silently
behind the curtains.
“Leave them, leave them!”

I carry my breath and heart
close to the earth,
and somehow at my core
a deep-seated stillness
curled inward
strains for rebirth.

Ahead a tremor of sun
beckons
from the patterned shadows,
“Unfold! Unfold!”

I enflame the bare walls
of my new life,
naked, arms wide
stretched like da Vinci’s child,
            in a perfect circle,
and stir the embedded air
thick with promises.

“Oh yes!“
Insane for the light
I dance,
wheeling, reeling,
giddy, translucent,
turning round and round
smearing joy over my radiant skin
so that it glistens like honey.

“Look up! Look up!“
Through the skylight
            reaching, reaching . . .
are bare branched trees leaping
with irresistible leaves
budding one by one.

IMAGE: “Theme & Variations Plate #96 (Butterfly)” by Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem reflects the turning moment when I decided to leave my former life and strike out on my own without credit, funds, or friends. I knew instinctively that it was the only move I could make at the time that could help me regain my sense of sanity and self-worth. I was reminded of the worm that spent time in its chrysalis to emerge a butterfly.

Vrenios

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Vrenios resides in Bethesda, Maryland, where she lives close to her former husband and her son and grandson. She previously published a memoir titled Party Line under the name Elizabeth Kirkpatrick. Her poetry has been featured in Clementine, Me as a Child series and All About My Name series by Silver Birch Press, upcoming issues of Edison Review, Kentucky Review, Silkworm, Crack the Spine, and Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. She is a student of Judith Harris, Hailey Leithauser, Sue Ellen Thompson, and Gloria Boyer. A Professor Emerita from American University, she has spent most of her life performing as a singing artist across Europe, Asia, South America, Scandinavia, and the United States. She is founder and executive director of The Redwoods Opera Workshop in Mendocino, California, and associate director of the Crittenden Opera Workshop in Boston and Washington DC.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: The picture was taken at a workshop when explaining to a class of students that if you believed in yourself enough, you could fly!