Published on Academy of American Poets (

This City

could use more seraphs.
Anything with wings, really—

a falcon, a swallowtail.
Ravenous for marvels, I slit open
a chrysalis. Inside,
no caterpillar mid-morph.
Only its ghost in a horror of cells.
I pinch the luminous mash
of imaginal discs
and shudder, imagining
the mechanics of disintegration.
The wormy larva—whole,
then whorled. A wonder
it did not die. Even now,
smeared against my skin, it beams

like the angel in the tomb
prepared to proclaim a rising.


Copyright © 2017 by Eugenia Leigh. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 10, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I’ve lately turned to the natural world for instructions on how to survive, and the mystery of the chrysalis tells us that to transform into a new being, the larva must first submit to a period akin to death. This should alarm me, but instead, it gives me much-needed hope that our individual and collective seasons of pain and death will ultimately lead to seasons of resurrection and glory.”
—Eugenia Leigh


Eugenia Leigh

Eugenia Leigh is the author of Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows (Four Way Books, 2014). She is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Program for Writers and lives in Chicago, Illinois

Date Published: 2017-01-10

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