In the officers' quarters at Camp Lejeune,
on the edge of the grass, under thickness of hedge,
in softness of shadow, I knew wilderness,
was certain I could stay forever.
I tied my broomstick horse to the water spigot,
crouched through brambles of green in search of a friend
I'd found the day before, pulsing along spines of branch,
tuft of black, band of brown, wooly bear caterpillar.
From the pocket of my sundress, I pulled the string
I'd snipped from a tangle in the kitchen drawer.
With the sureness of my mother's hands braiding my hair,
I wound the string behind his head into a loose leash.
I guided him through rocks and roots,
his furriness focused on me with quiet attention,
away from cries of the baby, reign of my sisters,
echoes in the empty well of my father's absence.
You know, I loved that caterpillar and he loved me.
I slipped the leash over his head and we lay still,
breath to breath, eye to eye,
first communion on consecrated ground.