She looked down at her hands,
which were itching as if swollen with fluid,
and calmly saw

that there were thick, green, finger-sized caterpillars
with pointy, raised, pale-yellow dots
protruding from their backs,

emerging from her skin,
rising like veins transposed into a different
key of flesh—

like drops of sweat
they formed,
rose and dropped away
from her wrists,
her hands and forearms,
only to be followed
by another,
and another,

until her whole arm
seemed to be nothing but

a fat squirming caterpillar and the room
in which she and the poet conversed
nothing more than a greenhouse

surging with foliage
and dripping
with the moisture
of primitive life.

Julie Thorndyke