They are named for the melting colors that cover them in rivulets as sweet and rich as butter. Wayward and exotic shades that do not match, patterns that create countries of velvety hallucinations cling to their apprehensive wings.
They are the living prisms that cascade through the air. They create the same tinted, religious light that warms a cathedral’s cold, medieval charm.
Their flight is aberrant and ungraceful, tracing invisible filigrees in the air. To watch them is to hear as well – the low and frantic breaths of a creature that only wishes to be still. Delicate and exhausted, the pain of mathematical flight’s strict symmetry is unbearable.
At rest, however, they seem to bloom.
The DNA that once hid in eggs, that once crawled, that once slept in glass-like birthing houses now stretched into capricious wings like coiling fingers. Wings are dual winter landscapes: covered with a colored frost that melts on our fingers.
Some migrate; twisting like petals in the breeze. They travel for no reason other than the incessant whisper of instinct; a temptation to leave made irresistible by the sight of a horizon, the whirring of their blood that nags and insists. This ancestral pull will carry them beyond mountains and oceans; over shifting atmospheres.
The air is soft and respectful, holding the dainty populations in its towering columns.
I once found a butterfly drowning in a pool of rainwater. I picked it up gently, and placed it on a bush. I watched it just as gently, and saw it spread its wings, exposing them to the cold, dry air. I left it to its ministrations, but looked back once, to see the tiny daub of color showing amongst the leafy shadows. I saw the dainty handkerchief waving back at me in gratitude and farewell.