BUTTERFLY CATCHER

In the Sixties
Nabokov switched

from ink to eraser-
topped pencil

on index cards    a box
of cards for Ada    a box

of cards for dreams
whose “curious features”

include “erotic tenderness
and heart-rending enchantment”

in one draft
he traded “stillness and heat”

for “silence, a burning”
                         so picture:

Vladimir seated
at the trunk of a tree

a spring day
at Wellesley    where

he marvels at his students
and their cable-knit socks

the way each elastic
grips without binding

just below
the knee        so exquisite

an application of pressure
that when said sock

is slowly
peeled off

the skin shows
no trace at all

  — Tina Cane