The Wind and the Caterpillar
the man in the Hokusai print has lost his hat
meantime she keeps on fattening
herself/ so her skin splits// munching
it down/ stuffing it in/ until she’s
27,000 times bigger/ than when she
papers scatter in the breeze
months go by before she wearies of it/
decides to pupate// inside her chrysalis
she’s liquid/ dreams of eclosion/ that
final endless day/ pumping her wings
with haemolymph, soaring forth/ to mate
& lay & die//
leaves escape their branches, learn to fly
About the Poem
I wrote ‘The Wind and the Caterpillar’ during a week in Dunedin, from two different experiences on the same day. In the morning, I went to the butterfly house at the Otago Museum, which was just wonderful. You get to wander amongst trees (or look down on the canopy from a platform) while hundreds of different tropical butterflies fly around you. You can also watch the caterpillars (behind glass) munching away. I don’t know if I remembered absolutely accurately how much they increase in size, but it was by a pretty impressive amount.
Janis Freegard was born in South Shields, England, but has lived in New Zealand since she was twelve. She is one of three poets featured in AUP New Poets 3 (Auckland University Press, 2008). Her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including Poetry NZ, JAAM, six little things, brief, Big Weather: Poems of Wellington (the expanded edition) and Voyagers: Science Fiction Poetry from New Zealand. She also writes fiction and won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2001. She lives in Wellington and blogs at http://janisfreegard.
For more poems visit the Tuesday Poem blog.
Thanks to Janis for this poem.