A Wing and A Prayer

The radio version is here.

She lay on her side on the pavement. When we found her, she had already been flapping in vain for hours, baking in the unseasonable heat.

My mother-in-law had planted milkweed in the hope of attracting Monarchs. And it had worked. The butterflies came and fluttered about for days. They lay eggs that hatched into larvae that were eaten or disappeared.

But one was different. She had found her way onto a wall where she had spun a chrysalis and had hung silent until this morning when a beautiful wet winged Monarch had emerged.

During the day, though, something had gone wrong. Her wings were not tucked properly and she could not fly.Sponsored

I considered how if given a chance, in her own short life she could accomplish more, proportionally, than I ever would. She would travel unimaginable distances, buffeted by wind and rain and smoke toward a destination she had never known.

We stopped what we were doing and picked her up and nestled her in some milkweed. She allowed us to reset her wing. She clambered weakened, her wings now erect. We left her in the garden shade.

By the evening she had died.

Saddened, I sat in the warm dark. I thought of this fragile miracle that survives less often than not. These gossamer things journey the length of the Americas. The Monarch is not a butterfly. She’s a system, comprised of wing, and plant and wind and temperature and even ourselves. And when the system works, the migration, the annual improbable pulse of life continues. And that pulse is now threatened. But like her, we still have to try, I thought. We have to stop. We have to observe. We have to listen.

With a Perspective, this is Andrew Lewis.

We Have Words For That



The radio version is here.

Each time a black man or boy is killed by the police, from some quarter the tiring statement inevitably arises, “Well. He did something to deserve it.”  He was selling CDs on the corner, he didn’t follow orders, he had a warrant for his arrest. These are infractions, yes.  But in a civil society, no crime justifies immediate public execution.  

It should not be tolerated from a 17 year old vigilante brandishing a gun.  And even less so from those appointed to be our guardians.  A system of policing that allows or even prompts officers to kill citizens under the guise of “control” is not  “Law and Order.”  In fact, it is the very opposite.  

We are a nation of laws.  Imperfect though they may be, they are what we have. And it’s the responsibility of each generation to help perfect them.  That means that beyond all, neither citizens nor the police are allowed to be the sole judges and the dispensers of justice.  

Regardless of the color of our skin, our current politics may boil down to one question.  Do we believe officers and private citizens alike have the right to render judgement and kill with a knee or a gunshot in the back?  

If we allow private citizens to patrol the streets with guns, we call that anarchy.  And if we subject non-compliant citizens to immediate execution, then the word for that is fascism.  

If we accept or attempt to justify such killings, then rest assured, one day you or I will be next. 

We do have words for that.  And those words are not “Law and Order.”  

With a perspective, this is Andrew Lewis