Family Evacuation with Gulf Fritillary Caterpillars

Hurricane Ida, August 29, 2021
—for Maria and Donald

Our friends who shelter us
grew a Maypop vine
these last three years

so they could offer food
to the Pensacola caterpillars
who gorge now on the poison

(to us) of its blooms
which are purple
and intricate as geodes.

The edge of the storm
tracked us here. Its tongue lolls,
huge and gray, across the horizon.

Ancestral butterflies
flash orange against the grass
like an emergency.

Some of the caterpillars
have wrapped themselves in cloaks
and hang still as they liquefy.