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 II
summer birds. Butterflies.
Stained glass windows in flight. Their mosaics outrival
the most intricate arrangement of stones laid for garden
paths. They search for light, nourishing what gives
imago. The last stage of metamorphosis.
The final form before the descent into leaves or a
piercing beaked mouth. A luscious tongue.
psyche. Breath or soul.
Lungs and inhale, the air’s slow hiss, escape. Aristotle
thought of butterflies as souls balancing themselves on
the wind in slow, uneven ascension. To breathe is to
live, impart what we cannot use to those who need extra
air to push forward, pull us near.
The gold drops on a monarch’s emerald palace
fashioned out of crocodile skin. The most expensive
larvae. Mask or hobgoblin.
Poison pincushions set for a Mardi Gras parade,
shedding and growing out of their own skin, drunk
on chlorophyll. Painted cartoon eyes to fool hunters
from above. Ridged, spiked, shiny-bumped and glossed.
Engorged then purged to weave what could be a coffin
cocoon. Shell. Burlap and cotton.
The source of silk, the stocky moth’s prized procession.
The simpler outer layer that shelters the self dissolving.