The hornworm’s summer

hornwormIf you’ve ever raised tomatoes, you’re likely to have seen these guys. Usually, you first see a bunch of black detritus under your ravaged plants. They merge so perfectly into the tomato leaves, that it takes awhile to find them.  Stanley Kunitz was a renowned gardener as well as a poet, and wrote a  Hornworm poem in two parts, Summer and Autumn.  Here’s the summer part:

Summer Reverie

Here in caterpillar country
I learned how to survive
by pretending to be a dragon.
See me put on that look
of slow and fierce surprise
when I lift my bulbous head
and glare at an intruder.
Nobody seems to guess
how gentle I really am,
content most of the time
simply to disappear
by melting into the scenery.
Smooth and fatty and long,
with seven white stripes
painted on either side
and a sharp little horn for a tail,
I lie stretched out on a leaf,
pale green on my bed of green,
munching, munching.

Stanley Kunitz

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