Judy Kaber



Caddisflies labor to build a coating,
a house they can carry with narrow entrance

I shoulder into my closet, push aside clothes
I no longer wear, remembering the dark voice

at the rear, escape at the head. A place
where they can pull away, swim

 from days I’d rather forget. My father watched me
model, his eyes sharp as pins as I wrestled—

to the surface, split cocoons and, on
a breath of wind, lift free as adults, the lid-

close-mouthed, trimmed in anger always
failing to please, hems too short, skirt too tight,

pressed wings unfurled, immediately wanting
air, clusters of them hatching, the sky’s breath

slit too long. Later I bared my arms,
my thin longings to a new man, his voice also

full, a mating frenzy, while their houses
drift abandoned in the benthic zone. Eggs laid

always chopped, fault-laden, words bolder
than my heart. Even now my mind’s seeds

in jelly, light-colored specks, wink against the black
face of water. Larvae emerge with simple eyes,

unopened. Flushed, my hands finger
old clothes, my taste uncertain, goals illusive—

eat only algae, decaying plants, spin silk to catch
debris, build a barrier against predators,

maybe tomorrow lose a few pounds,
 wear the red pencil skirt.

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