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Magnolia Quarterly

Spring Contest 2017 "Butterflies"



    The Black and White of Butterflies

Stephen A. Brimelow – Bay St. Louis, MS


Kenny tries to suppress the memories of his dead wife as he drives through the park, his four-year-old son, Donald, beside him. Suddenly blindsided by a wave of grief, he pulls over. As soon as he stops, Donald bolts from the car towards a small black girl chasing butterflies.

Kenny sits on the bench next to the girl’s mother while he tries to regain control. The sight of small children with their ungainly movements chasing the erratic flight of butterflies stokes the emotions he’s trying to control.

The black woman says, “You have to keep it together for the sake of the children. I know that look you have. My man’s been dead two years now.” She holds out a clenched fist. “Take it – take my hand. Now squeeze as hard as you can.”

Kenny grabs the back of her fist with the instinct of someone in quicksand, and squeezes tight.

She grunts. “Go ahead let it all out.” He squeezes for all he’s worth.

The children run up, opening their hands and releasing their precious cargo of butterflies. Kenny releases his grip and the two adults applaud.

Everyone smiles, the weight of their loneliness lifted away on the frail wings of butterflies.



Jewels in Flight

Mary Ann Sharp - Bush, LA


It must have been a very special day

When God sent us His precious gift - the butterfly.

They flutter above fields of wildflowers in whimsical play.

I don’t question His gift, I don’t ask why.

I just give thanks, looking toward heaven’s blue sky.

I am forever grateful for life’s simple things.

Lovingly, He gave me more vision than just sight.

Miraculously, He gave a caterpillar a pair of fragile wings.

I don’t question His way, He knows what’s right.

Inspired, I just welcome these heavenly jewels in flight.




Butterflies and Weeds

Lydia Cosgrove – Ponchatoula, LA


I was attending my “first” Native Grass and Flower meeting when I noticed the front door of the house was blocked by bushes and high grasses! Frowning, I thought, “Weeds flourishing at the front door?”

The meeting was about “natural” growing grasses and flora, and the wildlife that benefit from Mother Nature’s care. Ding the light bulb went on! The “weeds” at the front door? They where Natural Grasses!

Two weeks later, a Camilla bush and a vine where fighting in my backyard and Mother Nature gave me a valuable lesson in Her abilities! Taking care of Her wildlife!

The most amazing sight caught my eye! Thirty small yellow butterflies held on to that pesky vine. Some fluttered, some gracefully rested, some moved restlessly. It was a vibrant pale yellow living cloud, swaying, dipping, or resting. I watched for about 10 minutes, entranced and as the sun rose, off they rose, in a small but beautiful cloud twirling this way…that way…down….up…and away.

I thought, “ Wow! So very glad that I didn't destroy that ugly looking vine!”

Imagine my surprise the next morning as a replay of the previous day unfolded. Just as mesmerizing as the day before. A yellow mass waving me, “Goodbye!”

The next morning, I went to the window expecting to see my beautiful butterflies, but all I saw was a dried up ugly looking vine! It had done its job and was now resting.

Mother Nature taking care of her own!



Spicebush Swallowtail*

Brenda Finnegan – Ocean Springs, MS


I watch the black butterfly on my mimosa,

fluttering its four-inch wings, even as it feeds.

I remember a similar butterfly I encountered

years ago in a Louisiana monastery cemetery,

which lit, seemingly unafraid, on my open palm

while I was praying.

I was surprised by its trust.

I could have crushed it by

clasping my hand shut,

but I was mesmerized by its

tiny movements on my skin.

It eventually flew away, leaving

me breathless.

Butterflies have always intrigued me,

emerging from cocoons; first,

worm-like caterpillars, which feed

on the host plant, where their mothers

laid their eggs, then

folding leaves over themselves

tying them with silk.

Perhaps that is what we will do

after death - burst forth from our tombs

into a heavenly garden, as resplendent as

butterflies, filled with the joy

of multicolored blossoms,

and free to fly.

*The law designating the spicebush swallowtail as the official Mississippi state butterfly is found in the Mississippi Code, Title 3, Chapter 3 (1991).


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