—Pyrrharctia isabella



Do you confer with hornets
for a glimpse of the future?

I’ve been told to expect a hard winter

when they build high, the gray globes,

their homes, clinging to upper branches.

They look like papier-mâché human hearts

among leaves that are destined to fall,

dangling and decaying with the season.
Or do you just feel your way along the sidewalk


measuring sunlight and shadows?
And do they color your body, brown

and black for prophecy?

What witchery do you employ?

I thought my great grandmother magical

when she held you and declared we make ready

for storms, for the ashen weight of clouds
to hang from branches and stems that grow


wild and tangled across the firmament.
The stars, she said, were the signals of bugs,

see how they flicker their messages.

She spoke to fireflies and yellowjackets,

to June bugs and cicadas. She said

snow’s going to come down in swarms,

because you told her so, those thick, dark
stripes across your body. Ants predict rain.
Crickets sing of good days to come. And bees


don’t roam far if winds are on the way.
I never knew you sealed yourself into

a bristly cocoon, waited out the weather.

I never knew you emerged as a tiger moth.

I hope one day to while away the season,

my body transforming into something

with wings. I tell you it will be
a grave and grievous winter.