Don’t you remember them, the furred legs
of a caterpillar moving along your arm, each follicle
prickling beneath their touch? The crumpling
of the ladybug’s underwings as it tucked them back
beneath its glossy shell. The butterfly on your finger
unfurling its long, spiral tongue. Rows and rows of ants,
hefting their white eggs. The fly’s head
bowed, antennae bent under the careful work
of forelegs as it bathed its large composite eye.
One, no bigger than a speck, left tufts of foam
in your palm; another, a pool of green. Some
rolled themselves into a pill-shaped ball at the slightest touch,
while others, no matter how you tried, refused.
What was it about the workings of their small bodies,
the click of the mandibles or the steady pulse
of the thorax, so nipped at the center it seemed
tied with a string? Almost electric,
the way they zipped through the grass,
sunlight caught in iridescence.
Remember? How the dirt glinted
and shimmered, how the blind earth
once writhed, alive in your hands.
This poem first appeared in The Sun magazine and is reprinted here by permission.