January 18, 2020

Sting Like a Butterfly

My mother laid it out for me:
even changed into a butterfly
I’d still have a caterpillar’s face.

Geisha-fluttering in summer gardens
or blossom-shopping on a pastel breeze
I’d always be a worm at core,
essence stamped into my being
inescapable as Rorschach wings.

Leaves I crunched on pebbled sidewalks
would turn to bile in my gut until
I lost my appetite for tender things.

I’d find a mate but shouldn’t hold
my breath expecting romance —
reproduction fastened back-to-back
no reason to mourn lack of love.

Love short-lived as a butterfly —
I wouldn’t be alone for long.

Paula Rudnick is a former television writer and producer who has worked the past 30 years as a volunteer for nonprofit organizations.