The Lepidopterist

Phillip Watts Brown


My rarest find is a silver paisley which shimmers like pale fire against the charcoal of my suit. The bowtie opens over my collar, perched on the shirt’s top button. When I wear it, I’m Vladimir Nabokov, netting specimens for my collections. Today, I’m at the library stalking words, scribbling in a field journal. When I read my notes aloud, I hear the colors of each letter—light blue c’s, f’s an alder-leaf green, each y golden, and v’s transparent pink, like quartz. Among the stacks, I discover a shelf of my work. I take down a book to autograph with my fountain pen, inscribing it for my wife: To Verochka, my best butterfly, Christmas…but I forget what year to write. I look up to find the windows part mirror in the twilight, my likeness overlaying the tree-lined street, the cars, the people walking past. I realize I’ve lost track of time, that I’m so much younger than I pretend to be.


Phillip Watts Brown is originally from Utah but now lives in Oregon. He earned a BA in graphic design from Brigham Young University and an MFA in poetry from Oregon State University. His work is often informed by his experience both in art and in writing. Currently, he works as an editor in the Extension program at Oregon State University. In his spare time, he manages Poetry Sparks, a social-media source of poetic inspiration.

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