You are in Oaxaca again. Some days you wake to the thrill of adventure. Others, you are nearly paralyzed by what you have not learned (a long list that includes the vocabulary to help you describe what you witness).

Just outside the green gate of the guesthouse where you stay, a stranger stops you to show you, without words, a hefty black and fluorescent green, orange-tipped caterpillar.

You share his wonder, gaze, with him, into the trees or heavens to know where the creature must’ve descended from.

Still wordless, but clearly  transformed both of you, joyful,  move onward into your separate days’ demands.

How easy it is, most days, to forget  the beauty around us, the potential for the fallen to, one day, fly.


Many years ago, I came across the following prose poem. My mission these days is to “[notice] ordinary earth.”

A Caterpillar on the Desk
By Robert Bly
Lifting my coffee cup, I notice a caterpillar crawling over my sheet of ten-cent airmail stamps. The head is black as a Chinese box. Nine soft accordions follow it around, with a waving motion, like a flabby mountain. Skinny brushes used to clean pop bottles rise from some of its shoulders. As I pick up the sheet of stamps, the caterpillar advances around and around the edge, and I see his feet: three pairs under the head, four spongelike pairs under the middle body, and two final pairs at the tip, pink as a puppy’s hind legs. As he walks, he rears, six pairs of legs off the stamp, waving around the air! One of the sponge pairs, and the last two tail pairs, the reserve feet, hold on anxiously. It is the first of September. The leaf shadows are less ferocious on the notebook cover. A man accepts his failures more easily-or perhaps summer’s insanity is gone? A man notices ordinary earth, scorned in July, with affection, as he settles down to his daily work, to use stamps.

  • What rears up on its six pairs of legs before you? What “ordinary earth” do you consider “with affection?”


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