When Caterpillars Fly

When Caterpillars Fly

I shall remember this hour
reading in my garden chair,
sheltered from the scorching sun
as pale butterflies dance above.
The Green Man turns my gaze
to the giant kale leaves beside me,
planted deep in the soil of truth.
I watch in wonder as hundreds
of light-and-dark caterpillars
eat a journey of one inch,
until each leaf comes to resemble
a green lace handkerchief.

To witness another offer itself
as food, what reverence!
Compassionate and loving,
the kale appears to suffer greatly
yet chooses to return to the earth.
Then it dawns on me,
this plant has no ego,
doesn’t pride itself on appearance,
knows only its task in life is this,
to be the lifeblood for others
and allow its death to take place
without resistance.

Kale and caterpillar,
spiritual allies who come together
because it’s fitting for twin souls
to grow, die and transform as one.
Offering their bodies to each other,
as nest and nourishment,
a place for new life to be created.
Not all will survive the sparrows
who know of these banquets,
yet nature in her knowing
has created a miracle, a surfeit,
more than enough for the spiders too!

As I enter this other realm,
I see it is natural to grow and thrive,
instinctive there to offer
strength and goodness to others,
to sustain them as much as you can
and by doing so allow new life to flow.
I see nature doesn’t interfere,
she allows death to take place
so that inner and outer
transformation occurs.
I see that a plant lives many lives
as I watch my own life unfold.

From the corner of my eye
I watch a caterpillar fly,
as a gentle breeze spins
the little one on silken thread.
Against all the odds
a flight takes place, a journey
into transformation and rebirth.
I realise what I struggle to achieve in life,
I catch sight of in my garden
and in my poetry too.
Glimpses of the divine soul,
awakening to new possibilities.

Enlightened and transformed,
I rise from my garden chair,
sensing my butterfly nature.
For my tastes are different now
as I savour the delights of the garden.
I put down my book and reach for the sky,
turning in pirouettes of joy,
remembering when I was a caterpillar
who flew along silken lines,
until I felt rooted and able
to carry the trauma and triumphs
of the body I live in.


Copyright © Deborah Gregory 2018
Image is my own, taken in garden.

20 thoughts on “When Caterpillars Fly

  1. Deborah, this is such a beautiful nature poem of growth and transformation. We learn so many things in life from nature, it is probably our greatest teacher and you have given such a perfect example of one of the many ways Mother Gaia works to pass on her knowledge.

    I can imagine the Green Man, the male aspect of nature and protector of the animals of the forest, brimming with creativity as he oversees the nourishment of some of the smaller beasts feeding on the Kale in order to reach a point of transformation. The act of the Kale giving itself up for the caterpillars also represents just what the Green Man stands for – receiving its own lifeblood through the sun and rain in order to grow so that it may give and be the lifeblood for those little ones. Such a heart-warming image to hold, a mirror for our own lives also – it is indeed a wonderful world!!

    Thank you Deborah, may your Kale and caterpillars continue to thrive and fly!

    1. Thank you so much Sophia for your truly beautiful response to my latest poem! I’m hopeful this will become a poem of growth and transformation for others too. I will never forget that incredible hour or the rich insights I gained spent watching those amazing caterpillars eat their way through each kale leaf. Oh yes! A big nod here in agreement to Mama Gaia being our greater teacher, ever!

      I really enjoyed your take on the Green Man and the part he plays in the feeding of the little ones. What a wondrous creative life-death-rebirth cycle! A mirror for our own lives indeed! Do you know of any good books that you can recommend about the Green Man as I’ve read so much online about his mythology yet still haven’t got a definite book? Love and light, Deborah.

      1. I have to admit I can’t recommend one specialist book – I glean all of my information from many sources including Glennie Kindred’s books such as the Tree Ogham, Earth Wisdom and Sacred Celebrations. The description for the Green Man card in the Wildwood Tarot is extremely informative as well if you wanted a feel for the spirit of the Green Man overall. There’s a whole mythology surrounding the Green Man – good old Wikipedia has many references that you can investigate and may find interesting.

        1. Thank you for your wonderful Green Man recommendations for the choice on Amazon is endless and it’s difficult to know whether I’ll be choosing a good one. “Sacred Celebrations” is already on my book shelves … perhaps I’ll start with a re-read … as re-reading seems to my theme for August.

  2. Oh Deborah, I love the space and the pace of the poem, where nature does what she does best, enacting the dance of death and life manifesting in the richness of the soil, and in your human heart.

    May the green man continue to make delicate patterns, as inch by inch truth resides.

    So, from my wings to yours, and over the winds that gently blow from here to there, I am sending you love, Susan

    1. Thank you so much Susan for your beautiful, poetic words! For your reply comes in the form of poetry itself! And I’m left wondering if you do (as I suspect you may) write poems yourself? If not, then I’ll be most surprised, for you have such a wonderful way with words my friend.

      It was pure joy to sit and watch the caterpillars. All sorts of things revealed themselves to me deep in poetry’s hour, sat in my garden chair, enjoying Wendell Berry’s, “The Peace of Wild Things” and so much more. Love and light, Deborah.

  3. As always, exquisite work Deborah! Your photo above adds an extra dimension to the words. Thank you for sharing. If you can recall can I ask what book you reading in the garden whilst this happened? All the best, Anna.

    1. Thank you so much Anna for your most lovely response to my poem, so kind of you! Hope all’s well in your world. Yes, I took the photo in my garden. Where I was sitting (and reading, “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry … for the 2nd time!) to the right of me was the Green Man plaque that I keep on the fence … who seemed to be looking directly at the giant kale leaves covered in hundreds of caterpillars. And so the poem began … afterwards I lobbed off two of those huge green lace handkerchiefs and created the image above! Love and light, Deborah.

  4. Oh how you inspire us poets Deborah with your transformational tales of wonder!!! I’m with mariquitta, this is ASTONISHING and deserves many reads and rereads. Such a strong finish! I love how you shoot up poetry with vision and wisdom. HF

    1. Henry, you’re always so generous! Thank you so much for coming by and leaving such a wonderful gift of words! You’re one amazing poet you know and you continue to inspire me, daily. Ha-Ha! “Shoot up” … that’s a great expression! Love and light, Deborah.

  5. “this plant has no ego…”
    I can’t tell you how much I love this poem ❤️❤️❤️

    1. Thank you so much Claire, your response to my poem is more than any poet could ever hope for. I’m truly delighted! Love and light, Deborah.

  6. I’m laughing, Deborah, because of my caterpillar prejudices. This is exquisite and full of truth. You have a way of convincing me that the cabbage loopers (caterpillars) are more important than my kale and broccoli. Instead, those devourers of what they need to live become my teachers as I offer my ears up for the divine ones to clog the cochlea with whatever they use for that purpose and drown one more thread-like cilia that allows me to hear. Not much anymore. We offer ourselves because we must and have no choice. The kale surrenders gracefully to the inevitable, but I’m sure it’s relieved when a frost comes and kills those caterpillars. In my climate, the Kale Goddess is in her glory on cool fall days after that frost.

    1. Ha-Ha! I did laugh at your earlier comment my dear friend and thought my latest poem would produce an amusing reaction! Thank you so much Elaine for your most generous reply and deep intuitive knowing, “We offer ourselves because we must and have no choice.” Your wise words resonate with me deeply, for many times I’ve experienced the, let’s call it the “Kale” effect (as opposed to the butterfly effect!) whilst offering lifeblood for others … yes, it’s our calling, and we have no choice. How could it be any other way when one has a surfeit of kindness, goodness and strength to offer others in need. Much like the kale, in frosty or cold weather, I’m relieved too! Time to revitalize and gather up my giant leaves (or wings)! Love and light, Deborah.

  7. A beautiful soulful nature poem.

    I will return many times for the magic held within is astonishing!

    1. Thank you so much mariquitta for your wonderful gift of words! I had the most amazing hour in my garden last week watching those caterpillars take a long journey of just one inch. Just the thing to inspire this poet to write a nature poem. Love and light, Deborah.

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