Butterfly Weed – by Beth Boylan

My mother used to place wildflowers in books between tissues.
When they dried, I would sit at her elbow and watch her gently remove
the flattened sprigs of Queen Anne’s Lace or pansy to arrange and frame under glass.
The summer of the drought we watched her garden die.
One afternoon on the way back from the A&P, she slammed on the brakes
and pointed off the highway. Butterfly weed, she whispered. It’s endangered.
I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough. Ran through the dead grass
that reached past my hips to snatch those flowers, hot and orange as fire.
Back in the car, my mother’s lips stretched into an O as I passed her the loot.
She placed them in her lap and raised dust clouds as she gunned us back on the road.
Grabbed my hand and checked the rear-view mirror. Two outlaws on the run.
I’d never seen her so happy.


Originally from New York, Beth Boylan now writes and teaches high-school English near the ocean in New Jersey. She holds an MA in Literature from Hunter College. Her poetry has been nominated for both a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and appears, or is forthcoming, in journals including Rust + Moth, New York Quarterly, Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art, Whale Road Review, and Glass: A Journal of Poetry. You may find her on Instagram at @bethiebookworm.