Poets for Science
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Chrysalis

One day the caterpillar forms a chrysalis,

waits a while, becomes butterfly.

They told us this much: to wait

for chitin to split, for the emergence

of dazzling colors and pumping wings.

But they never talked about

what really happened inside:

how the caterpillar’s whole body

dissolves,

how for a time

there is nothing but soupy liquid,

butterfly goo, formless but for the

rigid purse holding it in midair.

And no one told us, either,

that when the caterpillar was born,

while it grew and crawled along,

a few cells called imaginal

already held instructions for what to build

when it came time for another body.

Here, the shining eye, the scaled wings.

Let me remind you about

the power of sticking around.

If you feel shapeless and scared,

imagine yourself in that tiny,

thin-walled shell, whistling in the dark,

some part of you already knowing the way.