Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, June 10, 2012
A slight but dazzling male blue butterfly, Lycaiedes melissa (Melissa Blue), enjoying the golden afternoon sunlight, inadvertently careers into the flesh of a human female’s cheekbone. Although the woman weighs approximately 18 million times (yes) the weight of the insect, she is knocked over. It is allegedly not the force but the gentleness of the collision that topples her.
Melissa Blue: [breathless, alights on woman’s shoulder] Oh, cripe. Did I hurt you? I’ve never hurt anything before in my life. Which has only been eight rotations of the Earth, I realize, but, well, our seconds are longer than yours.
MCW: [pushing herself up on one elbow] Oddly, I’m fine. But what about you? How is it you insect-y creatures ram into dense things but seem not to get hurt? Spiders falling out of windows and then marching off, that sort of thing.
MBlue: Did it feel like I was ramming? [pauses] Although you did fall down. How did I do that?
MCW: [not daring to move, to alter the butterfly’s position] You’re asking me? It felt like I was sort of whispered to the ground. I’m amazed you’re not a puff of blue smoke right about now.
MBlue: Nah. I lost a few wing scales. Eventually my wings will shred and I’ll die. Anyway, the lighter you are, the less it hurts to bump into things. I couldn’t tell you the science behind it.
MCW: [pauses] Now that you’ve said it, it seems so… obvious.
MBlue: It’s just my experience. You know, you should get up. You look like a crazy person just lying there on your side. Are you a crazy person?
MCW: No. I mean I don’t know — maybe. Will you still stay on my shoulder if I stand up? Because this is utter wish fulfillment, my favorite butterfly, right here, talking to me. God I wish I had my reading glasses—
MBlue: [taking flight] No, I need to keep moving. Finding food so I can keep moving so I can keep finding food so I can fulfill my destiny. But you can follow me … over to this lupine patch [disappears into purple-blueness of flower] over here. Am I really your favorite?
MCW: Utterly. A blue so blue it sticks in my throat and behind my eyelids. Must be interesting blending with a flower color.
MBlue: [hidden from view] It’s called mimicry; and it feels good. There’s harmony in it, and resonance. Humans don’t go in for it much.
MCW: [Suddenly] Hey, this isn’t a dream, is it? Sometimes in the summer, I really can’t tell, it’s all so deliciously intense, brief and shimmery.
MBlue: It certainly is a dream. All of it. [giggles, then lightly snorts]. So, did you even know my antenna were striped? Black and white. So freaking cute.
MCW: I did not know that, no.
MBlue: No, of course not. And even with your magnification glasses on, you would not know that. On a micro scale, I’m not really like the lupine flowers at all, I’m differentiated. But to the naked human eye, I’m one color.
MCW: So what are your un-naked eyes like?
MBlue: Open all the time, sister. We don’t sleep, not like you do. Actually, we don’t really see as much as smell. That’s how we look for nectar — propelled around by our famous flitting, of course.
MCW: Oh the flitting! So intoxicatingly random …
MBlue: [nano sighing] To your eye, it’s conspicuous and choppy. But if you could truly see, it would be like a dance, stunningly choreographed [flits up masterfully and then resettles on a rock]. My wings and body contortions change the distribution of my mass to better utilize micro aerodynamic forces. Wake recapture, is what your human scientists call it. My mini vortices keep me aloft!
MCW: Oh. Well, my mini vortices drag me down. Hahaha.
MBlue: And that, my friend, is the difference between you and me.
MCW: That, and the fact that you butterfly kiss me and unbruise my bruises, and I feel healthier for the tumble — like I’ve fallen up instead of down. How do I get in the way of more butterflies?
MBlue: [laughs, like a tiny bell] That’s cute. You make yourself available, I guess, like you did for me. Anyway, gotta flit. Nice bumping into you.
MCW: [sighing] Really nice getting bumped into.
A gust of wind comes up, and in the soft hush, Lycaiedes melissa is carried off, a tiny blue leaf in the shimmering forest of summer.