How to treat a butterfly


How to treat a butterfly (for Tina):

by john p. schulz


  • On Building Stepping Stones
  • Concrete and Abstract


stepping stones
Hand made stepping stones with imbedded ferns

Suddenly and unexpectedly captivated

The two young girls stopped their play

Noticing the wrinkled ancient gardener

As he added interest to the garden path.


They stood in their shorts and sandals

Their long hair hanging down

And watched as the old man pressed a flower

Into a freshly poured cement stepping stone.


“Will the flower stay in the cement?”

One asked

“No” replied the gardener.

“I will take the flower out

when the cement dries.”


“And what will be there, then?”

The other girl asked

The gardener thought about it

“The essence of the flower will remain.”


The girls thought about it

Jessica asked:

“Can you put a butterfly in it?”

“Yes” the gardener replied

“Can you find a butterfly?”


The two girls looked at each other and disappeared

Returning as the gardener was mixing fresh cement.

His hands old and wrinkled but strong

One girl’s hands soft and smooth

Cupped under her chin

Holding a treasure.


The gardener, putting his hand to his back

Straightened up, his eyes smiling

“And what might you have in your hands?”

“Why it’s a butterfly” she laughed

“I caught it. It’s beautiful”


He gently held out his hand

“And you want its essence in the garden?”

She looked down at her hands.  “I think so” she said.


And after a pause, she asked:

“Will it die?”

“Of course” the old man said

“But I don’t want it to die”

She clasped her hands a bit tighter.


The old man cocked his head to the side

“It will only live for a day, anyway”

She looked down at her hands

“And how long will its essence be in the cement?”


He turned and looked all around the garden

“It should be there for years” he replied

She followed his gaze around the beautiful garden

“He will be here for years?”

A nod

“He will die tomorrow anyhow?”

A nod


The girls looked at each other

They looked at the cupped hands

They looked up at the cloudy sky

And the smooth young hands opened up

And the girls watched

As the beautiful butterfly found a wind current

And sailed away.


“He only gets one day.” She said

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