The Story So Far

Miranda’s Loss
(I)
In my skin
there’s a butterfly
forever captured
dancing to the beat of my sweat.

It’s dedicated to
the memory of my lost child.
At the moment I keep my weight constant to
keep her memory alive.

But if another child should arrive
and make my skin stretch
maybe it will be time to let go
so the tattoo can mark my
journey back from grief.

Maybe then I’ll have a new tattoo to
celebrate the child I
am finally able to have
perhaps another butterfly.

Am I lost,
to mark out my grief deep into my skin?
To feel the tattooist working the picture into my skin
that is nothing compared to grief.

The pain of losing my
child’s heart beating
inside of me
is too much to bear so
I had to bury it in
the butterfly tattoo that
perches on my back.

Meeting Love

I met him at the butterfly house
in the zoo.
I remember butterflies
settling all around him
drawing attention to his presence.
He was so still.

A small girl, with a rainbow hat,
watched the scene
but she giggled and jumped
– the butterflies scattered.

Delighted at their flight
she grabbed her mother’s hand
and they moved on to follow the butterflies
further into the enclosure.
But my eyes could not.
They remained on the still man
who seemed to remain in a sublime moment.

He blinked and then
looked straight towards me.
I blushed
to be captured staring
which was not something
I normally did so indiscreetly.

A smile settled in his face
and he said ‘Whenever I come here I remember home.’
this was our opening.

I would usually have brushed such a greeting away
as I liked to keep to myself
when out in public places
where everyone was a stranger
but something drew me in,
‘Where’s home?’
‘Queensland’
‘Ah you have great butterflies there,’ I ventured.
‘Yes, we do.’
I waited for more,
but he simply began to walk
and so did I.
Butterflies were our beginning.

Our First Walk

Our first walk
past the rainbow mosaics on the path
developed the beginning of
our short hand.
His short sentences about working as
a falconer
had me intrigued.

I had heard of this ancient art
but never before met a practitioner.
We could barely breathe words into the world
of our first meeting.

I didn’t know where his sentences
would end and he kept leaving me
wanting to know more
I would later discover he had a tendency to leave
them hanging …
like a cliff hanger.

When I asked him his name
he countered me with a question.
‘What do you think it is?’

What’s in a Name?

The issue of names
would come up once again
when their child
still wriggled in the womb.

This unborn child
loved to kick to Opera.
She didn’t want to think about
the lost child
and had been avoiding opera lately.

But this man from the butterfly house
who she walked beside
what could his name be?
She had to read what his face said
open with dark eyes she couldn’t see into
but wanted to.

He was almost precisely her height
putting them on an equal footing.

He moved lightly
as she glided besides him.

What about names that went with
hers?
Could this be a test?
Could his name be Ferdinand?
What if his name was Caliban?
Could people really be matched by name
or astrology, or perhaps his name was something
to do with the birds he loved?
Peregrine?
Merlin?

It would be so strange
to meet another who seemed to be
named just for her.

She opened her mouth and the name
she thought he should have tumbled out …

It’s Only the Beginning

I can’t censor it
my imaginary name for you
forward rolls out of my mouth
‘Dan Nomad.’

You laugh at my guess
at your name, shake your head
‘Jackson Wheeler’ you gently reply.
‘The Deborah Conway song
‘It’s only the Beginning’
pops into my head

My mind is lost
daisy chains are made
I am doing cartwheels in the park
diving into multicoloured
rippled water
are you my ‘love of a life time?’

I am already walking
hand in hand with you
my butterfly man
I see our children’s
fingers
intertwined with ours
this is our beginning

Jackson Wheeler I think I knew even then
you were the one
my sweetest day dream …

Jackson Wheeler

The day we lost our child
I had a dream
of her possible future
with us.

I wanted to comfort Miranda
to share her sorrow
to take our first steps
beyond
grief.

I couldn’t tell her about
the dream
of our future
lost.
I looked at her
unable to see
where to begin
except without words.

Our little one
lost her spin of life’s wheel
she would never
take first steps
with us.

Only in dreams
would we be together
life forever
unreal.

My heart like a brahminy kite
(a sea eagle)
flew away to the calls of
our daughter and Miranda
wanting to land
somewhere
we could all take
flight
beyond
mortal frames
to be a family
once more.

I knew we would
have to settle on
a name for the one
who took her flight first.

We Are Made of Tears

Bereavement Room

In a room to pretend
for a short time
we had a normal family life
our baby celebrating with us
but there’s no sound of her tears
what we would give for her cries.

In that space we discover
small gifts
from those who have lost their
loved tiny ones
only to be left with
little footprints
on cards.

The bed spread is covered in butterflies
so bright
so light
and we have time to take photographs
to treasure
as if she lived
before we must surrender
the one we love to lie on a bed
of our salt water.

The midwife, Clara,
is so strong
treating us as if we are
like any other parents
but our
hearts are made of tears.

She gives us just enough space
but not too much, catches our tears
as the butterflies fly off the bed
spread around the room.

I remember the kicks
the time she lived
and danced
inside of me.

Jackson
remembers
playing her favourite music and
the way she would respond.

We must celebrate that she took a
few breaths
she did live for a few minutes.

Yet we are made of tears for her.
We long to dance with her not
for her.

We have to believe she is an angel
with butterfly wings now.

She flies through the clouds
of our tears.

Sorry

i am sorry
my lost one
that choosing a name for you has taken so long
it’s just we had to find it for you
when we were swimming in the butterfly tears

i thought
i knew it before you were born
but we you were here and gone so soon
the name we’d picked didn’t seem to fit you
not just right

i thought we needed a name
that said something about
where you were going
and where you came from
perhaps two names side by side
to keep each other company
so it was that Nevaeh
meaning heaven came into my mind
and then Tuwa from Hopi
meaning Earth

i wish you could have felt the earth
beneath your bare feet
just once
so you could remember it
so my little butterfly girl
Tuwa Nevaeh

may your flight
from earth to heaven
be a flight
from the cocoon of the
love from Jackson and i

may you emerge with wings
from the brief touch of our fingertips
and the dreams we had for
you that will never be

Tuwa Nevaeh – tiny princess
forever surrounded by
butterflies
it’s time for me to name
you and say goodbye

(c) June Perkins

Dragonflies

Another from my cyclone recovery poetry series. Many of these were initially written in diaries whilst in the middle of recovery mode.

Pearlz Dreaming

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After Larry
Butterflies were everywhere
Especially by the Tully hospital
Gardens there were their home.

After Yasi
So many trees gone in Tully and everywhere
Uprooted and turned inside out
With their skeleton roots starkly exposed

But,
Flights of dragonflies everywhere
Clustering and descending
To adorn rocks by
Swimming pools in need of a clean

Skimming on the water
Approaching and fleeing
Varied in kaleidoscopic patterns
Attracted to handle of red net

My son is holding
Their wings – small but aerodynamically efficient
Lead me to imagine myself
One with them

But, yesterday
I saw a Cairns Bird Wing butterfly
Dancing in the garden
Remembered how plentiful they were in Feluga

They became the slip stream
To all that has been lost.

(c) June Perkins

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What would Emily say?

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The creek is still here
skeleton bush returns bit by bit
but the swinging tree of the waterhole
is gone.

The tiny blue trimmed butterflies hide
with the dandelions
gold and brown ones nestle deep into the green grass
capturing them with camera leaves them free to fly.

Why do some children take the red nets
and break the wings of such beauty,
why can’t they let them be?

Two friends sit at a round table
discussing Emily Dickinson
and how she had to speak to others
from another room.

She needed so much room to write her words
still she hid them away

Butterflies hiding in the grass
sing of Emily
and wonder what she would have
made of cyclones.

(c) Word and images June Perkins

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Paint Me a Face

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‘Paint me a face’
said the young girl
‘make it red and black stripes
give me a nose and some whiskers.’

‘Paint me a face,’ said another
‘I’d like some glitter
and butterfly wings.’

The artist gave them what they wanted
and recalled a time when she
too waited in such a line
and remembered what she asked for . . .

By June Perkins

School Fairs are amazing thing, especially in country towns. They really are occassions for children to share musical, learning and other performance items. They also love to have fairy floss, ice creams, sausage sizzles, lucky dips, rides, art shows – and of course have their faces painted.