The blue butterfly

On my Jew’s hand, born out of ghettos and shtetls, 

raised from unmarked graves of my obliterated people 

in Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, 


on my hand mothered by a refugee’s daughter, 

first opened in blitzed London, grown big 

through post-war years safe in suburban England, 


on my pink, educated, ironical left hand 

of a parvenu not quite British pseudo gentleman 

which first learned to scrawl its untutored messages 


among Latin-reading rugby-playing militarists 

in an élite boarding school on Sussex’s green downs 

and against the cloister walls of puritan Cambridge, 


on my hand weakened by anomie, on my  

writing hand, now of a sudden willingly 

stretched before me in Serbian spring sunlight, 


on my unique living hand, trembling and troubled 

by this May visitation, like a virginal 

leaf new sprung on the oldest oak in Europe, 


on my proud firm hand, miraculously blessed  

by the two thousand eight hundred martyred  

men, women and children fallen at Kragujevac, 


a blue butterfly simply fell out of the sky 

and settled on the forefinger 

of my international bloody human hand. 


from The Blue Butterfly (Salt, 2006 / Shearsman, 2011), © Richard Berengarten 2006, used by permission of the author.

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.