Cocoon

In the depths of the freezer case at Four Seasons
Asian Grocery, a tray of cooked, frozen grubs:
the cashier tells me they are really

the carcasses of silkworms, harvested
in the hundreds, maybe thousands,
after they die from their labors

spinning threads that women
in Chiang Mai or Dalat will unravel
as strands of silk… So many bodies

burrowed in hive-like baskets—
What would you do for the promise
of wings rising over a bamboo porch?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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  1. TRANSFIGURATIONS

    Cocooned in a condition of utter simplicity,
    the silkworm will not stop oozing out its tapestry
    onto the point of death which is also its beauty.

    How much beauty can be eked out of pain?
    Like the hurt bivalved flesh of the grimy oyster,
    would the papillon wings glisten like a pearl?

    But this one is spun out of patience: there
    must be radiance out of a cocoon’s dark
    confines. It can only break into mobile light.

    Colour the mariposa green, would that matter?
    Dye the silk out of its consumed gossamer nets,
    would that stop its flying out of a crude beginning?

    Arrested from its final transfiguration, the worm
    turns and it is on a table–the grub of culinary
    quintessence! Quite like an earlier challenge:

    “Eat of my flesh, drink of my blood. This covenant
    shall not be broken. I will be with you again when
    the radiance of this goblet dims into a eucharist.”

    A condition of simplicity? Bear beauty and perish?
    Offer an unending dream in a kingdom, and be slain?
    The tale of the supreme sacrifice is also an immolation.

    What does it matter that I die then, if I flew out
    of a trellis like the monarch butterfly, that started
    as a wormed-out silkworm then food for the hungry?

    I would be the worm, the injured mother pearl,
    the crucified madman who asked that his flesh
    be eaten, his blood quaffed, and live forever.

    Beauty is an omen. Destroy this vessel of clay,
    and it can only spill the reddest of wine, the
    stoutest of ale: a dangerous promise of eternal life.

    —Albert B. Casuga
    08-27-12

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