Gypsy Moths

Katie Kalisz

Happily we practiced our aim with shiny bicycles,

an ambush on the driveway where they caravanned
from one side of the yard to the other, searching
the oak and aspen of our childhood sylvan for a transient home.

We tried to get our tires at a right angle to their lined bodies,
pedaled quickly to make a neat cross
or an addition sign and then, mastering that,

we lined our tires up to roll over their length
like the lowercase “l”s we practiced with our pencils
on the dot-lined penmanship paper during school.

How the green and yellow streaks of their guts trailed out
behind their furry spotted bodies.
Sometimes, they would become circular splats of intestines

that we tried to forget, even though we sped around the circle driveway
to see again the remnants of life,
paintings made with bodies that we couldn’t imagine

once alive. Maybe if they’d been moths earlier.
Caterpillars begot butterflies. Something crawling became
something beautiful that flew. Our childlike version of the resurrection’s

confounding and annual mystery, even then we knew the futility
of staying in one place long enough, a recurring
accumulation of death and flight and infestation

and no difference made.

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