One time I caught a Painted Lady. I was eight,
so I pinched her wings between my thumb
and forefinger, watched her legs run in midair.
Her antennae silently switched back and forth,
Dad’s car started, and I sat mesmerized. The colors
in her wings vibrated as the queasy engine left—
I ran my thumb along her tips and marveled
how soft and delicate she was. I closed my eyes
to make sure I remembered every detail of her opulence.
I work foundation into pores, smearing skin
in light beige. Highlights whiten forehead, cheek
bones, nose, and chin, blending away imperfections.
I carve my eyes in blackest of black, create cat-eye
corners to enlarge the effect, brush lids in colors
of nude and apply a scintillating holographic
blush. Line lips Revlon 45: Naughty Plum.
I lace my black stilettos around feet and leave.
Mom called from inside the house,
tears tarnished her pale skin. I observed
how my Lady fluttered. As delicate as she,
I placed her in my mouth and swallowed.
She shivered as she went down and so did I.
I knew she would always be safe with me.