[Editor’s note: A regional writer, whose pen name is Elle Cee Wallace, sent this poem to Stewardship Manager Kathleen Foley Lewis recently. Ms Wallace wrote the poem upon reading about the lone Island Marble Butterfly—nicknamed “Amelia”—that flitted to the Preservation Trust’s habitat plots at the Land Bank’s Frazer Preserve on San Juan Island last spring. You can read more about “Amelia” here.

Ms Wallace wrote the poem in a modern imagist style in which the lines defy the conventions of regular, left-justified stanzas. Instead, lines and words seem to flit about the page like—well, like a butterfly. We can’t reproduce the poet’s intended format here on our website, so click here if you’d like to see “Amelia” in a PDF file that more accurately captures the full effect. Ms Wallace has graciously permitted us to share this poem with you.]


By Elle Cee Wallace

“[The island marble butterfly] was nicknamed Amelia after another adventurous flier.”
– Kathleen Foley Lewis, SJPT Stewardship Manager

It is only when the eye rests
you see it
the creamed surface
the marbled brush of lemony-lime
across her underwings

In a tiny section
at the southern tip
of the San Juan Islands
timing is everything
counted not just in days             but hours

The wild mustard must bloom
right as she emerges
from chrysalis
lays white-blue eggs
on a single bud

Inside the open fields
and coastal dunes
she lands             lifts
the fence stays put
a little longer

Where the eye rests
at the southern tip
of the San Juan Islands
for a conservationist she says
timing is everything