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Red Admiral

She has folded the best
of her colour, and shows
me only the dabbed
camouflage of her underwing –

And she drinks and drinks
through her long dark straw
a thin draught
from purple flowers

bounced by the brief wind.
She is alone
in a gathering of tortoiseshells,
like some grand old dame

deaf among her children's children –
And there is something
about her, world-weary,
a little wise –  But

when she opens her wings
she colours in
a picture of the velvet south –
bright traveller suddenly

juggling red and black – 
settling and unsettling nervily – 
And never quite happy
enough to stay.