And so, what else can you do
but let yourself be broken
and emptied? What else is there
but waiting in the autumn sun?
—Carolyn Locke, "What Else"
This is not a new story. Time molts us.
Fiber, cartilage and chitin, imaginal discs, memory, all
morph their way to metaphor. Before it is wing-ready, Uruba lugens sheds
whole exoskeletons, yet keeps its previous headquarters attached,
wears successive husks of history like hats. Blank oculi stare out
above its eyes.
Watch that capitated shape head up the branch
to munch each eucalyptus mouthful. See it strip
green epidermal substance down to vein through walls, chew
windows until what had been leaf becomes a frame for light.
Scrunch and pull: digest of trajectory. This should all feel familiar.
We eat our lives full-mouthed and hungry for horizon.
At the edge of next, we’re tempted. Some instinct pushes us
to want whatever waits around the bend, yet our smaller i’s come with us,
buried in a gaze: they look out of every face.
What if we could not be changed without displaying our
discarded incarnations, our shed selves heads above us; stacked into afterthoughts?
Abandoned to their desiccation, they’d perch awkwardly, tensed for reinvention:
each headcase larger than the last, each empty gaze concaving, walls too cramped
for transformation. Child shed to adolescent, adult to crone—the patterns atrophy, crumble slowly
into silence, until at last: Space, enough to open. Space, to leave. Space, to lift.
Photo credit: John Tann from Sydney, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Published in Global Poemic, Words and Whispers Journal, Poetry in the Time of Coronavirus Volumes 1 and 2, Tiferet Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Anti-Heroin Chic, Book of Matches Literary Journal, Amethyst Review, The Shore, and Rust and Moth, Alison's work is upcoming in Thimble Magazine, SWWIM Every Day, Academy of the Heart and Mind, River Heron Review, The Jewish Writing Project, and Speckled Trout Review. On the second Sunday of each month, Alison facilitates a free online poetry reading, Well-Versed Words. She lives with her husband, two sons and rescue dog in North Carolina. When not writing, she officiates weddings and memorial services, takes long walks in the woods with her family, and dances in her kitchen. You can find her online at www.alisonhurwitz.com.