Melinda Green Harvey: 1964

Pink pearlescent cateye glasses
brought my second grade world into focus.
My waist-long braids were recently cropped
to a more manageable length, but a cowlick
still influenced rebellious bangs.
Baby teeth gave way to huge replacements,
their odd angles foreshadowing
future orthodontia.

That summer I gathered backyard caterpillars
stuffing them into pickle-scented jars.
Fuelled by daily rations of leaves
larvae spun cocoons.
Before long, silken walls thinned,
revealing chrysalises folded inside –
a yellow and black swallowtail;
an orange-purple harvester; or a Southern
pearly eye, dusty white.
After emergence, the butterflies would
spread creased, damp-looking wings,
then flap them slowly, preparing for flight.
I would unscrew nailed-holed jar lids
and let the beautiful, fragile creatures free.

But me?
I was still a caterpillar.

© Melinda Green Harvey
blog: One Day|One Image
blog: Misc. and So Forth
blog: Dirtgazing


9 thoughts on “Melinda Green Harvey: 1964

  1. I love this. I was another wearer of pearlescent frames in the same era, I had white and blue pairs. You have expressed the feeling of that time so well, I think. I also caught butterflies and let them go (I particularly remember running through fields with a good friend, the daughter of my dentist (somehow that detail seems necessary to tell in this context) and I think I was a caterpillar for a very long time, too. Thanks for this poem.

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