I wipe a silk from my shoulder. Who’s
coming? In the deep shade, a wobble,

a tilt from upright, and the speed 

reveal someone wheeling a bicycle. 
Then, a man.

One caterpillar descends
a silk thread of escape. White with black,

it must see the world from the zenith 

of youth broken free,
slipping into the unknown.

There were struggles to leave,
the habits, the inevitable hungers,

eyes blind to cyclists, walkers, robins.

Today dew sparks a thousand thousand lights.
A compound, then a short future looms.

Now other caterpillars rappel from trees.
Some hitch rides, land 

flattened to the pavement, or ripen wings.

Hickory tussock moth: the larvae sting. 
The barbs he’ll wish he’d never touched.


Kathleen S. Burgess has practiced a life of direct and varied experiences—senior editor at Pudding Magazine: the Journal of Applied Poetry, public school music teacher, union officer, activist, university typist, composer and performer for a feature movie, server, factory solderer, videographer, and hitchhiker through North, Central, and South America. Recent poetry appears or is forthcoming in Atticus Review, r.kv.r.y, JMWW, A Narrow Fellow, Central American Literary Review, and others. She authored the chapbook Shaping What Was Leftand conceived and edited the anthology Reeds and Rushes—Pitch, Buzz, and Hum. She lives in Southern Ohio, and online at kathleensburgess.com.