Metamorphosis

Katherine Larson

It is astounding how little the ordinary person notices butterflies.
—Nabokov

We dredge the stream with soup strainers
and separate dragonfly and damselfly nymphs—
their eyes like inky bulbs, jaws snapping
at the light as if the world was full of
tiny traps, each hairpin mechanism
tripped for transformation. Such a ricochet
of appetites insisting life, life, life against
the watery dark, the tuberous reeds. Tell me—
how do they survive passage? I rinse our cutlery
in the stream. Heat so heavy it hurts the skin.
The drone of wild bees. We swim through cities
buried in seawater, we watch the gods decay.
We dredge the gods of other civilizations.
The sun, for example. Before the deity became a
star. Jasper scarabs excavated from the hearts of
kings. Daylight’s blue-green water pooling at the
foot of falls. Sandstones where the canyon spills
its verdant greens in vines. Each lunar
resurrection, each helix churning in the cells
of a sturgeon destined for spawning—
Not equilibrium, but buoyancy. A hallway
with a thousand human brains carved out of crystal.
Quiet prisms until the sunlight hits.

Solarium

The pomegranates are blurs of rouge
in the sky’s tarnished mirror.

The city, bleary with heat. Each day the eyes
of my cat assemble a more precocious gold.

We press our blackened flesh against a sky so bright. I hold
her in my arms at the fading windows.

We gaze together at nothing in particular,
down an avenue that leans so far her tawny eyes

gutter out. In my laboratory, immortal cancer cells
divide and divide. The pomegranates

are almost ripe. Some splintered open the way
all things fragment—into something fundamental.

Either everything’s sublime or nothing is.

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