Advice From a Caterpillar


by Amy Gerstler, written poetry, December 3, 2014

Chew your way into a new world.

Munch leaves. Molt. Rest. Molt

again. Self-reinvention is everything.

Spin many nests. Cultivate stinging

bristles. Don’t get sentimental

about your discarded skins. Grow

quickly. Develop a yen for nettles.

Alternate crumpling and climbing. Rely

on your antennae. Sequester poisons

in your body for use at a later date.

When threatened, emit foul odors

in self-defense. Behave cryptically 

to confuse predators: change colors, spit,

or feign death. If all else fails, taste terrible.

As I’ve been spending time with the older adults at Champion Intergenerational, I’ve been asking what advice they would want to give to the preschoolers. Responses have ranged from “be yourself” to “do what your mother tells you and don’t disobey.” This poem reminds me that everyone has diverse experiences that have informed their outlook on the world. This is important to keep in mind as I see the adults interact with the preschoolers.