Metamorphosis

So. I didn’t mind this jade-green chrysalis
at first. Well, I did mind, but I could get used to it.
Besides, I was comfortable with tight.
I was comfortable with restrictive. We loved it
when Dad used to tuck us into bed tightly at night
like we were mummies. But this chrysalis hurt
more than most things,
since all the fun stuff I liked to do beforehand
(like drive a car or cook meals for myself)
had been ripped away from me, like the pile
of new socks that were yanked away from my
sweet mother’s hands at our nearby department store
during the crowded Sock Sale of 1974.

Did you know that caterpillars digest
themselves inside of their cocoons,
and that all of their tissues are dissolved
before The Great Metamorphosis occurs?
That said, I had no choice but to lay around
in this disorder—not of my own making, mind you—
waiting for wings.
And I figured, well, it won’t last long, and at least
it will be worth it because when I materialize
from this alien-esque change, I may emerge
a triumphant, beautiful butterfly
with a Mother Teresa personality, the patience of Job,
and an unwrinkled face like the one I had
when the chrysalis thing first started ten
very long years ago.

When everything disintegrated
it meant only one thing: when I emerged
all put back together again like Humpty Dumpty,
I was going to be wiser. Every word
that would usher forth from my sanctified brain
and out of my holy lips would be worth recording
on anyone’s smartphone with Voice Memo
(by anyone lucky enough to be within earshot
of my wisdom) my wise words to be replayed
in their car again and again for their tremendous benefit
in preference to their favorite playlist of classic rock.

This metamorphosis would change me
into a saint! Those who passed by me walking
on the streets, or who pulled up next to me
in my car at a red light would take in a quick breath
and text their friends to say they just saw someone
famous but can’t put a finger on who I am,
I think she was the actress in that old show The Flying Nun
not realizing I am something even better:
a saint arisen
after a long wriggle out of prison.

No one was more shocked than I, then, when
The Emergent
(me), sat there in a church I still wanted to attend,
in my pink boiled wool jacket, wings
folded reverentially across my chest,
wearing six tiny cream-colored dress shoes
that would have made Jackie O proud,
worshipping a God I pretty much believe in
after a sabbatical of belief
thanking a Savior for saving me from something
(my brain is sometimes soupy on the details),
and smiling-slash-biting-my-tongue, er, proboscis,
with herculean strength lest this cranky, cussing moth
blurt out swear words like the homeless woman
who crashed Sacrament Meeting at church
twenty-six years ago in New Haven.
Mother Teresa is nowhere to be seen
(believe me, I’m frantically looking)
and when I finally look in the mirror
my face is ten years older.
Dammit.

——–
“Metamorphosis,” by Gwendolyn Soper.

Source: Exponent II Magazine, Spring 2017 Issue, Vol. 36 No. 4

N.B. The second guest-poet reading I ever attended was by George Bilgere (Brigham Young University, 2015). George said he was the “cheeky nephew” of Billy Collins, and I believed it for years. Billy Collins’ reading was the first guest-poet reading I attended – Snow College, 2013. George’s voice was described by the host as “purring butter that will make you want to call your dad.” After attending his reading I went home and wrote this poem instead.

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