Nine caterpillars on the milkweed
Monarchs in the making
Nine fairy-tale larvae gnawing
Toxic leaves and stems

One short of a double handful
Gaudy fingers counting happiness
Into September’s waning light
In a yard grown wild

With end-of-season neglect
Each vine and flower folding
Its beauty in anticipation
Of fall’s many journeys

While a farmer’s weed feeds
Next year’s flock, fattening heirs
Almost ready for the chrysalis
For the silk unweaving

And flesh reweaving, nine
Marvels maturing toward flight
Toward the necessary leaving
And gathering and leaving again

Of their frail horde, a dwindling
Pulse of butterfly lore paused
In the yard for these brief hours
Nine, eight, seven, six, five

Four, three, two, one last
Sigh of discovery before
I put away the mower
And wave goodbye to summer


About the Poet and Photographer:
Rae Spencer’s poetry has been published in print and online, receiving multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. She can be found on the web at  The photo seen above is a photograph she took of the caterpillars that inspired her “Metamorphosis” poem.


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