by Jerry Buchanan

In wooded canopy, a chrysalis
dangles from a leafy branch.
I imagine
in the cocoon a larva suspended
in sheltered liquid silence.

The science of butterflies shows
patterns in pathos—a caterpillar
digests itself to a nutritious soup;
budding disc-shaped cells form
into a winged body born to flap.

Breaking open its golden case,
wet appendages emerge, air out
brightly colored wings—
defensive threat to predators,
sexual draw to attract a mate.

Wrangled by hunger, the insect
launches airborne: a hesitant flutter
in windy gusts, a discharge of fecal mass.
Rigorously pumped wings disperse
body fluids that dry and harden.

Observing the Monarch's journey
to siphon nectar from a milkweed,
I imagine
a catchlight image of myself
weighing the sacrifice for a new life.


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