Metamorphosis of The Pale Tussock on a Plum Tree Branch
after Maria Sibylla Merian’s hand-colored counterproof of plate 47 in Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandelung (Caterpillar Book), 1679
Let’s move clockwise, positing that the egg came first
because you crawl in the morning, sleep in the afternoon,
and fly in the evening. The branch of oblong plums
stands upright as yet uneaten and you, tussock caterpillar
parade your plumes without predator. Like a dream
you’re full but not yet fulfilled, leaves at the cusp of turning.
Let me see inside the cocoon cupped between
the fold of a leaf at seven o’clock. Behind the window,
the little confessional still holds its secrets
of turning yellow to whiskered gray and goo to wings.
What memory of steps remains when the new you emerges
unfurling sails for flight or angling the frontmost legs?
The final stage—invisibly painted—you suddenly eaten
or for a portrait pinned still.