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Susan Perala-Dewey


Metamorphoussusan perala-dewey

I found you there
When I wasn't looking
Your shell
Still attached
To this rusty
Cabin screen

It took a few minutes to figure
You had already gone
Unfurled your new body
Dried your wings
Taken flight in your new life
Above water

I try to imagine
What it would be like
To be born again out of water
Out of a body that crawls
Along the lake bottom
Into a beautiful creature in flight

Now you buzz by me
Landing on occasion
Or simply stopping midair
To take in the sights
At a slower pace
Than 200+ mph

It is no wonder
You need those giant eyes
Ones that might frighten
An unfamiliar observer
With your jarring, but gentile
Approach to life

I wonder sometimes
What is next for you
What is beyond this life
What came before
You emerged from water?

I suppose I could
Google you or look you up
In a book on Entomology
To learn more
About your before
And after lives

But I guess
I prefer to keep
My soft lenses on
To covet this
Profound and miraculous
View of life.



I remember
The first time
I saw you crawl
The cabin wall
A large mudbrowngreen
Ugly water bug

You were big
A frightful sight
Roughly the size and shape of
A carnival ticket
Squared off at

At first glance
Crawling across grass
You appear to be
A big black beetle
But a closer look
Reveals your subtleties

Your back flat
With parallel grooves
Descending past your backside
Six skillful hairy legs
Delicately negotiate
Your journey across land

Over reeds and wild roses
Smells of spicy summer cinnamon
Through thickets of Juneberry
Up and over stalks of purple iris
Stands of starmoss and
Greengray curly lichen

A journey through time
Over time, or in time
Depending on who you ask
The botanist, ecologist, entomologist or
The Finnish Grandpa who sits in wait on the shore of
This Northern Minnesota lake.



I watch as you climb
To a place you feel just right
In the shade of a young white pine
A place that catches some
Long rays of midday sun
Whispers of soft lake air

A place your feet
Hairy tentacled legs
Can firmly attach
Secure your body
To this resting place of

In a remarkably short period
Your mudbrownblack
Beetlebody shrinks
Turns a toasted
Shade of mud

We had to be patient
My kids, my parents, and I
Taking turns
Standing watch
Reporting back to the rest
Each time you moved

Of course
That usually happened
When we grew tired of our
Vigilant watch
Gazing out instead at
Indelible shades of blue

We’d say franticly
“It moved!”
“It’s starting to break out of its shell!”
The rest came running
To witness the progress of
Your special labor

But by the time we arrive
Your brown shell is
Cracked vertically
A narrow black line
Wet and shining
Perfectly still

We’d stand, stare, and wait
Marveling at what we might see
But summer calls to children
There are frogs to catch
Saunas to take and
Gentle dips into cool waters of June.



Grandpa was not so eager then
To call the crew for every contraction
But alone he reveled in each movement
Something he never experienced
In the birth of his five children
Not in this life

But soon enough
He called in the troops
And there before us
A perfectly symmetrical
Coil of black had emerged
Wet and glistening

We stay
A little longer this time
Sure the coil would begin to unfurl
But as nature would have it
Our patience ran out
Hunger took over

My dad was not a patient man
Always in a hurry
To get things done
So we could enjoy the day
The week, the weekend
But you called him to pause

He did not want to leave
So we brought him dinner
Fresh fried walleye
Red potatoes
Bread and coleslaw
He ate and watched

Sometime in the long evening
After the loon’s first song
Grandpa called again
There atop your brown crusty shell
You stood perfectly

You clung there
Hanging onto your shell
Eyes transfixed
Straightening your long body
Transparent wings glistening 
Washed new in peachpink dusk.



Again we wait
Rosy cheeked children
Chattering at the sight
Of your miraculous birth
Will you fly away?
We wonder

But grandpa says
“Go finish your sauna and jump in the lake”
“Then I will tell you the story of Haukolinta”
Little feet patter across the grass
As my dad’s hand rises up like a hawk
Their giggles fade in frog songs

I imagine my father
Watching you
In wonder …
To be born again of water
Washed by sunlight
Set free in flight

I see his smile now
Children in his lap
Looking to the lake
Calling “calleleeo”
As you ever so gently
Take flight.


The day you sat on turquoise opal ice
Crushed by pressure ridges along
Superior’s shoreline
Melting into a day we could not
Imagine …
I carried your water

The night you birthed the twins
Crystal clear frozen starlight
Beneath white pulses of Borealis
We swore to protect them
Keep them safe from storms …
I carried your water

The icy morn we found her lying
Washed ashore in
Tides of crushed blue ice
We said there would be no more
Children taken by the cold …
I carried your water

The day our ozone
Disappeared from sight
While children played in pools of mud
Becoming Mexican clay under Serengeti sun
Suffocating by the very breath of earth …
I carried your water

The night they came knocking
Walking straight narrow roads north
Begging, buckets in hand
For clean, clear, living
States of consciousness …
I carried your water

The day you said goodbye
Leaving behind
Millais of color
Droves of parched people
Dysentery at our doorstep …
I carried your water home.

Note:  Paint Chip Poem  July 2008