Rebecca O'Bern


: moth of the Tibetan Plateau

Long before I was born, my father was a boy

with a pet squirrel. It stayed in his pocket

as he fed it snacks throughout the school day.

His teacher found out, let the squirrel go.

At eighty-five, the Dalai Lama’s doctors

say he’ll live to a hundred. Good thing—

plenty more time to study life’s intricate

relationships between science and religion.

My father, too, fills his years with books

and bibles. Now at eighty, his doctor

doesn’t say how long, just that the pace-

maker should help. He drinks tea daily.

As a boy, the Dalai Lama held out his hand

to catch a Thiratodes. He watched its wings

beat for hours, witnessed shapes and patterns

like a butterfly and felt forever changed.

Fourteen reincarnated lifetimes are enough,

says the Dalai Lama, if that’s what is best.

My father doesn’t shave his beard anymore,

has to take his time coming down the stairs.

The four bright golden wings of Thiratodes

oppose each other’s symmetry in sets of

two, yet attach themselves to the same body.

This is the way of things. I drink tea too.

Rebecca O'Bern is associate poetry editor of Mud Season Review. Her work appears in Black Coffee Review, The Lake, Hartskill Review, Storm Cellar, Connecticut Review, and other journals. A recipient of the Leslie Leeds Poetry Prize, she's also received honors from UCONN, Connecticut Poetry Society, and Arts Café Mystic. She's a graduate of the MFA Program at Southern Connecticut State University, where she taught in the English Department and was poetry editor of Noctua Review. Find her on Twitter @rebeccaobern.