A Butterfly in New York

I chased it so often
in our Baghdad garden
But it would always fly away
Today
Three decades later
In another continent
It perched on my shoulder
Blue
Like the sea’s thoughts
Or the tears of a dying angel
Its wings two leaves
falling from heaven
Why now?
Does it know
that I no longer run
after butterflies?
Just watch them in silence
That I live
Like a broken branch 

© Sinan Antoon. From Lalyn Wahidun fi Kull al-Mudun (One Night in All Cities) (Baghdad & Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2010). By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2013 by Sinan Antoon. All rights reserved.