MY FAIR OPPONENT
Always, I’ve championed metamorphosis.
It began with caterpillars devouring my grandfather’s tomato plants.
He squished them by the half dozens between his rough fingers,
a startlingly green paste, never to become Sphinx Moths.
Never to lift on that five-inch wingspan.
Horn Worm, he bellowed and raised his hands to the sky
as if to implore His god to stop sending the little green buggers forever,
but I knew no one was listening because Grandpa’d asked the same the year before.
Marcia Brady, was beautiful, probably born a butterfly–
not just any butterfly, definitely a swallowtail.
But one day, old Marcia invited a mousy girl over for a sleepover.
Marcia transformed ugly Molly Webber in minutes,
using makeup, foam curlers and contact lenses!
Of course, Molly went on to steal Marcia’s boyfriend
and the student body presidency.
If someone ever butterflied me, I’d never be so ungracious as that.
By now I’ve been a hundred caterpillars, mostly hornworms, mostly squashed.
Been a few butterflies, too the Great Spangled Fritillary among them.
The life of a caterpillar is less taxing by far, but caterpillars can’t fly, so we all
build our changing shells, in the corners, under the stairs, in glass jars.
And this is why, even in pandemic, I clung to the thought that we might
metamorphosize and exhausted with small hopes saw unsuspecting
hornworms finally left to develop—a concession for the terror.
But dammit, I was fixated on flying insects and Bradys, arcs that
move from stolid, plump munchers to flight and then to credits rising in a clear sky.
Truth: Grandpa’s pinched hornworms also transformed—into pasty goo,
then into the earth. Consider, I scream to myself as one does these days,
how the Black Backed Oriole evolved to withstand the poison of a Monarch,
swallows them whole and then transforms the multitudes very much against their will.
Splats on the earth. Dismantling, destruction, decay. It is another route, well worn.
We have always known this, each one of us. It’s nothing new to you.
And yet we blink not to see it because
Ooh, those wings.
Christina Marrocco writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her work often focuses on ethnicity in America and working class issues. Her poetry and short stories can be found in Ovunque Siamo, Silver Birch Press, and the Laurel Review. Academic work in DLB, VIA, etc. .Christina is currently preparing a book of Siclilian-American interwoven short stories for publication and teaching a variety of writing courses at Elgin Community College outside of Chicago, where she has been a professor and active in international and social justice concerns for over a decade. She has a collection of short stories forthcoming from OVUNQUE SIAMO PRESS.