“The monarchs in my neighborhood:” A poem about moving to a new city

Oct. 5, 2021 / By

A car windshield has a butterfly sticker next to a sticker saying "wag more."

Photo by Rachel Livinal.


In this poem, VoiceWaves reporter Rachel Livinal writes about her transition from a small city to the much larger city of Long Beach, and how she’s learned to move through it all.


The monarchs in my neighborhood 

Were the first sign I noticed

I apologize for this writer’s block 

The city swaddled me 

It’s been talking in my ear since

I turned 

Onto my new street 

Last Saturday 

She likes to say 

Move through me one step at a time, 

Keep going, 

The past is so far away, 

A lifetime is six days 

She says 

You are a speck 

You are a young woman 

Among millions of others 

Don’t forget your purpose 

But remember


Less is always 

Better than more 

I would be lying 

If I said I didn’t prepare 

For this 


I imagined 

The seas of cars, 

The people, 

The traffic, 

The ocean air 


On Monday morning 

Several people 

Looked out of their cars, 

Diverting their primal itinerary 

To tell me

My blonde hair was so pretty 

How naturally, 

It bestowed this 

Out of the box beauty 

At this point

You’re thinking 

What the hell are you getting at 

What does this have to do 

With the moral of the story 

Insects have always 

Gravitated to my hair 




Anything with wings 

The monarchs in my neighborhood

They’ve been getting dangerously close 

I’ve been waiting for one 

To invest its time in my hair, 

Get lost in my follicles, 

Breathe in the scent of my shampoo, 

Dance around my blonde wisps, 

Trap itself and its wings, 

And then angrily try to escape 

I’ve been waiting 

But not one came 

What I’m trying to say is 

I’ve spent a week 

In a city that rests by the sea, 

There’s so many people 

A lot of the time

I feel like it’s going to break me 

But the monarchs

They haven’t touched me, 

They haven’t hurt me, 

They haven’t betrayed my trust, 

They’ve only recognized my face, 

They’ve only highlighted my hair’s beauty, 

They’ve only whispered to me, 

That after this whole little 


These next two years

Will take my innocence 

And craft it 

So that I become one 

With the insects, 

With the city 

Not a target for them 

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