The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Rare Wondrous Things by Alyse Bensel

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator Sally Rosen Kindred, is from Rare Wondrous Things by Alyse Bensel, released by Green Writers Press in 2020. 

Glossary for Metamorphosis I

samen, millet seed. Caterpillar or moth eggs.
               Does every cluster signify life? Like pills or ribbed
               pale shells or thin paper lanterns. An ant’s nonpareils.
               Microscopes revealed how the heads emerge like polyps
               from their coral bud. I could tell you they are a filament
               in the crosshairs of a universe expanding. I could tell you
               what builds the earth.

ey. Cocoon of moths or butterflies.
               I have failed God less but you more. This is the place of
               waiting. Life hangs on thread and spit. As though the
               wind could not crush every silken covering like a tent in
               a storm.

goldlinge. A chrysalis speckled with gold.
               The most precious things are broken with color. I never
               wanted gold rings. Solid lasts too long, pretending to be
               forever. Not even the sun will stay. Passing comets leave
               a streak fading across the sky, promising return.

silberlinge. A chrysalis the color of silver or mother of pearl.
               A piece of silver clinging to a stem. You are a pendant
               burnished and kept in a silk-lined drawer, never feeling
               the hollow of my neck.

date kernel, date pit. Butterfly or moth pupa.
               Aristotle thought of date seeds spit to the ground.
               He never learned pupas do not arise from putrefied
               mud and shit. Every fifth-grade classroom hangs a
               mesh cage for caterpillars to change. A biology lesson.
               Transformation begins this cycle. And ends it.

Alyse Bensel is the author of Rare Wondrous Things: A Poetic Biography of Maria Sibylla Merian (Green Writers Press 2020) and three chapbooks. Her work has appeared in AGNIAlaska Quarterly ReviewGulf CoastSouthern Indiana Review, and West Branch. She serves as Poetry Editor for Cherry Tree and teaches at Brevard College, where she directs the Looking Glass Rock Writers’ Conference.

Sally Rosen Kindred‘s third poetry book is Where the Wolf (Diode Editions, 2021). She is also the author of Book of Asters and No Eden, as well as three chapbooks, including Says the Forest to the Girl (Porkbelly Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared in Alaska Quarterly ReviewLos Angeles ReviewShenandoah, and Kenyon Review Online. She teaches online workshops for The Poetry Barn. 

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