Caterpiller in Chrysalis


In chrysalis, a caterpillar dies.
I often wonder whether pupa cries,
as it digests itself with some enzymes
into amorphous mess of primal slimes,
until its scattered cells metastasize.

Before becoming lovely butterflies,
entire structure systems must reprise.
Just like an egg, responds to paradigms,
in chrysalis.

Yes, they are friendly, furry little guys,
whose meek appearance carries a surprise.
I wonder, when the caterpillar climbs,
and hangs itself upon a twig, sometimes,
it knows, instead of crawling, now it flies?
In chrysalis.

Author Notes:

Chrysalis – cocoon
Pupa – a phase of insect between a larva and adult that resides within a cocoon.
Metastasize – the rapid growth of cells, usually associated with cancer.
Reprise – to rebuild
Paradigm – (pronounced para-dine, it rhymes with slime) a model, outline, or blueprint.

I was recently out walking along a high prairie bluff with my wife and grandson, Jeremy, when he spotted this caterpillar on the ground, among the reeds. It’s pretty early to be out yet, but there it was, and it got me thinking about when it will become a butterfly. I thought about its process of transformation, and wondered if it somehow knew what would happen, and how it felt. Here’s the process as described in
Scientific America.

“First, the caterpillar digests itself, releasing enzymes to dissolve all of its tissues. If you were to cut open a cocoon or chrysalis at just the right time, caterpillar soup would ooze out. But the contents of the pupa are not entirely an amorphous mess. Certain highly organized groups of cells known as imaginal discs survive the digestive process. Before hatching, when a caterpillar is still developing inside its egg, it grows an imaginal disc for each of the adult body parts it will need… Once a caterpillar has disintegrated all of its tissues except for the imaginal discs, those discs use the protein-rich soup all around them to fuel the rapid cell division required…Depending on the species, certain caterpillar muscles and sections of the nervous system are largely preserved in the adult butterfly. One study even suggests that moths remember what they learned in later stages of their lives as caterpillars.”

So basically, it turns itself into the equivalent of an egg, and develops from there.

I also think about the parallel to death and Resurrection. Clearly an Easter theme.

This poem is a Rondeau.
The Rondeau is a French form. 15 lines long, consisting of three stanzas: a quintet, a quatrain, and a sestet.
Rhyme scheme is: aabba aabR aabbaR.
Lines 9 and 15 are a hemistich – a refrain if you will (R) usually consisting of the first 4 syllables taken from line one.
I wrote this one in iambic pentameter.

Joy Graham vowed to host a Rondeau marathon this week until Easter celebrations are over. This is my contribution to her rondeau marathon.

This photograph was taken by the author himself on March 22, 2016.

Synergy of Poetry and Verse. Author, Poet, Photographer

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