“The silkworm manufactures as efficiently as a factory line…”


The silkworm manufactures
as efficiently as a factory line. Its tiny jaws
a conveyor belt carrying leaf bits to its long
vanilla vacuum hose of a body. The constant eating
drones on like a morning drizzle. Static
of a soft crackling fire, of a record player,
the needle revolving empty vinyl. Each band of its body
swells and contracts, subsequently, then nothing
is left but the leaf’s petiolate veins, a skeleton
of a bird’s wing. Evolution’s discarded wrapper.

The worms only eat from the Tree of Heaven,
its Chinese name translated. Ghetto Palm,
the tree’s name in New York. Or known otherwise
as a mulberry tree. A low hanging bush tree
that in its old age resembles a magician’s
top hat filled with mulberries to pick
and pluck and stain fingers and mouths
in dark webs of blacks and purples, Han
purple and Patriarch blue. Shades
of swelling and deep bruises. The worm
has been human-bred for 5,000 years. It used to
fly. Now it can’t. Imagine a winged insect
forever grounded, munching away
its entire life. Their young need leaves
to be minced, their jaws too atrophied
to chew themselves.


Originally published in These Fragile Lilacs. 


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