Metamorphosis

The whole flightless, sexless existence of a caterpillar, hobbling around on stubby legs, is stuffing itself full of succulent greenery. But does a caterpillar know that it also has butterfly genes, just waiting to take over? And does a butterfly know anything of its grubby past?


Caterpillaring is fun –
It’s just continuous eating.
As lifestyles go, I think this one
Will take a lot of beating.

My caterpillar mates don’t stop,
And hardly pause for breath;
They eat so much they nearly pop.
They never think of death.

I’ve seen them die: they disappear
Inside a hard brown case –
A chrysalis. And then, I fear,
They vanish without trace.

Old caterpillar sages say,
“You do not really die,
But live in quite a different way –
No longer crawl, but fly!”

I can’t believe that it is so,
It leaves me quite perplexed.
All life must end; for all I know,
It might be my turn next . . .

Oh dear, I’ve slept. What’s this about –
I’ve found these verses written.
And here am I, atop a sprout
Whose leaves have all been bitten!

I’ve dreamt the most peculiar things.
But now I’m wide awake,
My lanky legs and flashy wings
Will help me find a mate.

Hark! do I hear old sages cry?
“Your legs were once just hobblers,
You had no wings and couldn’t fly.”
Oh, what a load of rubbish!

[Photos: www.meades.org (caterpillar); Daily Mail (butterfly)
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