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on cooking with caterpillars

by Erin Smedley 4 months ago in nature poetry

a meditation on finding caterpillars in unhusked corn

on cooking with caterpillars
Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash

I should leave this page blank then

it would be about silence

unless you’re more interested in

potential cookbook new

insect protein health fad

don’t eat cricket

flour you can harvest

caterpillars in your own yard

first caterpillar charred

baking sheet, kale chips,


crisps cannot finish its meal one

kernel missing off cob

second caterpillar swallowed

by corn husks, Quest

Bar wrappers and pear cores

next to bare cob the tip

squishy from its nibbles



third caterpillar

cryogenic, pre-

shucked husk coat filled with silk

(stringy garnish, scarf for the cob)

forced hibernation it starves fourth

and fifth caterpillar still

not hatched, cling to silk umbilical cord

six corn cobs become six incubation tubes

vegetable crisper now the NICU


executive chef, exterminator, obstetrician, executioner,



in the oven clangs of warped ambiguity

metal settles onto the rack and oil


in the trash can a clunk

the lid perks up

caterpillar bodies fall

from my spatula

like hail some

still alive gunk

squirms compacted

downward palm strike

so everyone fits

in the fridge vegetable crisper hangs

off kilter kicked

into place twice (until it’s fixed)

I smiled

at a fuzzy caterpillar

playing in a puddle

I threw

the corpses of these ones


bristles of feet across my hands


into garbage disposal

they’re actually

called corn earworms

a type of caterpillar they could

have become moths if they hadn’t come

home with me

mama moth lays one kernel at a time

earworms eat each other

cannibals confusing companions and corn

what they don’t touch is good enough

to consume

nature poetry

Erin Smedley

Read next: Woe Betide the White Man

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