“Discussing Earth’s Insects” by Natalie Padilla Young

Natalie Padilla Young


A praying mantis perches on the coffee shop doorframe,
the alien is intrigued. He takes out the human’s camera.

Look at how sturdy its skin is,
how mean. Like it will reach out and slice
anything that gets too close.

He wants to know where insects come from.
Where the aliens come from insects don’t really exist.
He wants to know,
What is the difference

between a moth and a butterfly?

She doesn’t know the science
behind classification, the pieces and parts,
something about antennae—smooth club vs. pipe cleaner,
fuzzy vs. shaved.

They are not small birds?
No. No bones.

She explains how she sees,
A moth
is furry, a butterfly’s not. A moth can’t resist light.

The alien considers the distinction.
So, I am the butterfly and you are the moth.

from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
Tribute to Speculative Poetry

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Natalie Padilla Young: “A friend once told me that you don’t choose the art, the art chooses you. I didn’t really seek poetry out—it latched onto my leg and wouldn’t let go. It has turned out to be a good companion; it’s led me to be an editor and graphic designer, and to share time and pages with incredible people.” (website)

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