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She, the woman with ribbons on her skirt, spoke quietly. I had to lean in to her words. She said, “I am shy,” with a voice like the wind that ripples water.

That cold winter’s day, I had gone to see the butterflies. They drifted through the warm, humid room pausing on lush tropical plants, a cement wall and tiled floor like restless hearts seeking a moment of clarity.

I had worn a blue shirt with a red flower print hoping the butterflies would mistake me for a flower and land.

My friend took my picture with a luminous blue butterfly pausing on my chest, just above my heart. It was a precious moment. I held my breath.

Yet, I could not help but look up at the water stained ceiling. Did the luminous blue butterfly seek the sky?

It was when we were leaving that I noticed her standing, uncertain, in front of people expecting somethi

ng from her words. Instead, she offered words for the people’s tongues. This is what she said –

When you cross a bridge, tell the water –

I thank you water

I love you water

I am so sorry water

Crossing bridges, I remember her and let her words flow from my tongue –

I thank you water

I love you water

I am so sorry water

Her words always stir sadness in my heart, like a butterfly that cannot find the sky.


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