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 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.

chrysalis. Gilded.
               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
               or transcendence.

cocoon. Shell. Burlap and cotton.
               The source of silk, the stocky moth’s prized procession.
               The simpler outer layer that shelters the self dissolving.

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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