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Weekly Poem: ‘Metamorphosis’

By 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.

Katherine Larson won the 2010 Yale Younger Poets Prize and the 2012 Kate Tufts Discovery Award for her book “Radial Symmetry.” She is also the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship.

Watch the NewsHour’s profile on Larson here.

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