For fifteen days a caterpillar feeds
on sorrel, selfheal, ragwort, mint, or privet.
If a wasp mounts it and injects its larvae,
they’ll prosper on its blood, and then gnaw through
its epidermis, fragile in the weeds.
The woolly bear will suffer trauma, outlive it,
protect the wasp cocoons, and then starve three
weeks, though surrounded by lush leaves and dew.
This is not part of a conspiracy.
The female wasp does what she’s always done.
The hapless caterpillar does the same.
And so it is with people; few are free
to fly away as Coppers in the sun,
Monarchs or moths in unforgiving flame.