Belly-Ache Bush With Giant Sphinx Moth: Plate #15 by Maria Sibylla Merian

This is what I mean by a riot of openings:
five-petal leaves grow dripping
bones from the center vine. The caterpillar eats
the east of each leaf like a koan, cracking them
into fields of reasonable inches.

At least I see them as bones the way they rattle in this surveying wind.

This is what I mean by the ocher cracks open:
my life is a test here I snag my mind upon.
The process of thinking a chrysalis a pushing through.
Are my fingers my paints a crackling fire?
What reason withholds my center?

Or do I mean centering. This is what I mean
by a wide-open concern: The Giant Sphinx
Moth with its curves of tongues.
Once the feathers were only a private inside.
Once the words inside me were captive, cocooned.


Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming or in The Journal, Spillway, Heron Tree, Redactions, Pebble Lake Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Verse Wisconsin. She has received a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Her most recent chapbook, Her Vena Amoris, is available from Red Bird Chapbooks.