The Entomologist’s Dream by Susan Carey

African Glass Blue, Cinnabar Moth,
Fiery Copper lie in glass chambers.
Desiccated wings ache into movement.
Antennae twitch, exoskeletons tremble,

pierced thoraxes gulp agonising
breaths of sequestered air.
The collector dreams thin, creaking ice.
A summer storm bursts the sticky night;

shatters butterfly boxes open.
Proboscises suck sweat
from the man’s forehead.
Revived, Camberwell Beauty

and Painted Lady jeté
towards the open window.
Mimicry eyes mock him:
The Koh-i-Noor of his collection

settles on the spreading board.
Clammy hands cupped
he leap-frogs! She pirouettes
into the night

her rainforest calling.
Rolling towards him
potassium cyanide stirs
inside the killing bottle.

© Susan Carey All rights reserved

Susan Carey lives in Amsterdam. She has had short stories and articles
published in the UK and abroad. She is a TEFL teacher and her other
passionate pursuits include belly-dancing and horse-riding.
Email Susan

“I wrote The Entomologist’s Dream after visiting an exhibition of Victorian
Painting at the Royal Academy some years ago. The poem was inspired by the
painting of the same name by Edmund Dulac. Butterfly names are so evocative,
almost poems in themselves. Strangely, after writing it I felt sorry for the
entomologist with his killing bottle rolling towards him. He only wanted to
capture the butterflies’ transient beauty for himself, as I have tried to do
in my poem.”