Have you ever read something that you just could not get to leave your mind? "Chaos Theory" by Clinton Smith was that for me. This poem explores the idea of how one small difference could change everything, the people we know, the way we are, who we are, everything. That something so small as a butterfly would change the people we met in our lives. It has to ability to get under your skin and resonate within you and that is what got me. That and the fear it struck within me after finishing it. In the poem Clinton Smith writes, "maybe we would both be plants on opposite sides of the same coral reef, so that we could have been connected without ever having met," is another powerful statement. To think about having a connection yet not even knowing with an important person in your life makes you really think, who aren't you meeting.
This poem's end had the deepest lasting effect on me, "but what I mean to say is that it would have been such a tragedy if something happened that would have prevented me from meeting you". At this time in my life, I have someone in my life who means this much to me. It's this that made me freeze and think about this poem for days. The raw innocence in this poem about the fear of losing some one so special to you is so easily relatable. It made me think that if a butterfly could change anything, what would have happened if I never decided to move back to West Virginia. I would have never met her, I would have never fallen in love, I would have never found my passion for teaching, I would have never dyed my hair purple, I would have never met the best group of friends I have ever had, I would have never gotten my fish, I would have never connected and grown with my sister as much, I would have never gotten a cactus. It's the little things as well as the big things he makes you appreciate.
When I first read this, I never focused as much on the butterfly until a few times later. Maybe he chose the butterfly for a deeper meaning. Why a butterfly, I kept thinking and thinking until I went to look up a type of butterfly and the butterfly effect appeared in the search engine and it clicked. This poem can be a play on the butterfly effect and that's why he chooses the butterfly as his main reference. The butterfly effect states, small causes can have larger effects. Clinton Smith ponders the effects a butterfly flying in the wrong direction changing who we are, if we ever met, or if we ever existed. Therefore referencing something small changing something so much larger. Whether or not that was his way of thinking, that idea made me appreciate the poem much more than before and share it with so many more people.
Fallen (2015), Paul Villinski