"A Caterpillar on the Desk"

"A Caterpillar on the Desk"
by Robert Bly from The Morning Glory. © Harper & Row.

A Caterpillar on the Desk
Lifting my coffee cup, I notice a caterpillar crawling over my sheet of ten-cent airmail stamps. The head is black as a Chinese box. Nine soft accordions follow it around, with a waving motion, like a flabby mountain. Skinny brushes used to clean pop bottles rise from some of its shoulders. As I pick up the sheet of stamps, the caterpillar advances around and around the edge, and I see his feet: three pairs under the head, four spongelike pairs under the middle body, and two final pairs at the tip, pink as a puppy's hind legs. As he walks, he rears, six pairs of legs off the stamp, waving around the air! One of the sponge pairs, and the last two tail pairs, the reserve feet, hold on anxiously. It is the first of September. The leaf shadows are less ferocious on the notebook cover. A man accepts his failures more easily-or perhaps summer's insanity is gone? A man notices ordinary earth, scorned in July, with affection, as he settles down to his daily work, to use stamps.


O said...

Yesterday, on the floor in the bathroom at work (which has Manhattan tile), on one of the white octagons, was a dead, pink baby gecko.

Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

Poor gecko! My husband ran over a BIG snake a few weeks ago when he was doing the last mowing for the season. The result was a sliced and diced bloody mess!

But I digress, the caterpillar was very cool. I could see the little thing developing its winter coat and looking like one of those chocolate finger cookies that have the tip dipped in dark chocolate! Good word picture!

Feisty said...

Very nice, Miss Snark.

So, is this some kind of foreshadowing of things to come? A secret Chinese box, maybe. A job cleaning pop bottles. Sponge that has gotten out of control.

And I wonder why so many good books never find a home in the publishing world.

Nicholas Colt said...

Hey Miss Snark. My name is Jude Hardin, and I've started a blog of a novel in progress. My protagonist (Nicholas Colt) is the blogger. Will my work be protected, as long as I post a copyright notice? I know it's not likely anyone would want to plagiarize me, but I'm just curious about the laws regarding internet posts.

AnimeJune said...

Geckos, eh? Useful creatures.
One of my dad's friends worked with an oil company, and had to go to Nigeria to do business.
He was given a bodyguard, who gave my dad's friend a box full of geckos, that he was supposed to keep in his hotel room at all times.
"Always look for the geckos before you go in," the bodyguard warned, "If they're on the floor, the room is safe. If they're on the ceiling, that means there's a poisonous snake in your room, and that someone put it there intentionally, and that you should get the hell out of there."
Sure enough, one day, the guy finds geckos on the ceiling, and security finds out someone folded an asp into the bedsheets!

O said...

I always check the bathroom for snakes

Susan Henderson said...

This was a nice surprise. I always enjoy your blog, MS.

Bernita said...

Animejune, thank you. Those ingenious solutions to complex dificulties are always intriguing.

Mad Scientist Matt said...

I had a baby inchworm crawling across my desk not too long ago. It was so tiny, it barely qualified as a centimeter-worm.