Scotch Argus

Scotch Argus
Erebia aethiops

We promised we would bring her here
to this grassy flank of the south-facing hill
where it enjoys the first warming rays of the sun.
High above her old house, the stable and fields,

it’s hard to climb the hill over rough ground
where purple moor-grass grows in lush tussocks.
We disturb scores of Scotch Argus butterflies:
they go bobbing around us, flickering browns

who haunt this hillside as the slope takes wing.
They have been a chrysalis first, then a caterpillar
feeding on blades of grass; they become butterflies
in dark brown velvet, the black ones freshly hatched.

Rows of false eyes with white pupils on their wings
will help them survive a bird or lizard on the hunt.
We are here for the scattering of Jean’s ashes
when light radiates around us in the rushes,

dusky butterflies in a sunburst, who are rising
in airy lightness, free to become a blessing.
One dewdrop from their wings cures every pain.
‘Do you see all the butterflies? This is paradise.’

photograph: Near Castle of Burrian, Westray, Orkney, April