Middle-of-the-Night Reflection at the Final Instar Stage

Kathryn Smith

When I think of what I know

about my heart, I think of slipping

from my skin and into my beetle suit, my body

breathing through spiracles. In the mirror,

I see it: how the pupal sac has almost

sloughed away, skin beneath my eyes

milk-pale and sagging. Am I

the lover or the beloved? Imagine blood

flowing freely without veins

to wall it in, my heart stretching

the length of me. Transformation

is ugly. No one tells us this. Sure, the wings

are beautiful, the iridescent carapace, but mostly

we live in wriggling bodies with organs

shivering the surface. Too close. When

have I inhaled without being cut?

I’ve paced myself so long against my one,

too-quick heart. I’m growing my shell now,

and it’s not to keep you out.

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