The Larval Stage (Silk, Part One)

The Lady Bombyx Mori Speaks of Kaiko Yashinai-gusa

I. The Larval Stage (30 days)

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
forgive me first my questions,
poor blind crawler that I am.

What hunger is this? I think
this might be hunger. Yearning,
all my yearnings have before
been hunger, been simple, been
a kind of quiet crying
out. And now I do not know.
I eat, nestling in the leaves;
I curl, wriggle, and eat more
to satisfy what should be
a simple need. Not enough.

This unsettled restlessness
is like and unlike hunger,
like and unlike the desires
I’ve known before. What is this?
I attempt from this strangeness
to fly in vain, lacking wings,
lacking the faith of the winged.
Whatever disharmony
drives me now, it is not one
I know how to remedy.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
if it is your will, let me know the name
of what this is that now moves me.

Hunger, that is familiar.
The business of hunger
likewise has become common.
One hungers, one eats, then grows.
Growth is uncomfortable,
or becomes so, anyway.
Four times for me it was so;
growth led to a tight tension,
a pain of sorts: my own skin
did not fit me. I began

to panic, feeling smothered.
Without knowing what to do
skin that no longer fits, splits,
and I found myself crawling
forward, leaving behind what?
A part of me no longer.
I have become different
than the self I thought I knew,
changed in at least some small way
perhaps too small of a change.

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
if this incomprehensible movement,
this stretching, is to change me, so be it.

Four times this self-division.
I shed the skin of silence,
the skin of my parent’s house;
I shed the skin of violence,
the skin of the house of fear;
I sloughed off unfaithfulness,
shed the lonely house of lies;
shedding now skin of deceit,
the skin of the crowded house
clouded with chronic mistrust.

Is this enough? Is there more?
All I seem to do is eat,
grow, suffer, change, then repeat.
It seems a kind of music.
“Let me know some little joy
‘though I suffered long annoy.
Not contented with a thought
of an idle fancy wrought,
more than shadows or a sliding,
let my joys have some abiding.”

Goddess of Silk, Lady Luna,
Mother of all the Bombyx clan,
if I do not understand my own doubts,
my own questions, how can you answer me?

Written: January – February 2001.


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