Karen Holmberg


Consider mayflies, daughter-caught in Bonne
Maman jam jars, their wide variety:
wax white, slate grey, grey green, with day-glo
or popsicle orange eyes, some
with striped stockings on, or wagging
their triple-filament tails like puppies.
They’ve gone through twenty
nymphal stages in their stream, two years
clutching a lump of black-slimed chert
only to emerge with vestigial mouths,
to blizzard for two weeks round
the mercury lamps in the parking lot
of Val-U-City.

Consider all the allowances spent on Mexican
jumping beans, the covetable hinged acrylic
case with magnifying lid placed lightly
as a grenade on the conveyer. Hand-warmed
the whole ride home they finally began
a little arrhythmic kick against your palm, setting
your heart off-pace. Consider
the caterpillar’s final task before she spins
the silk sac: to score a compass-perfect
circle in the capsule so the moth
she doesn’t know she’ll be can pop
the hatch, escape to lay her eggs deep
in the ovary of the Sebastiana flower
that blooms only in the Sonora’s
fabled arroyos.

Consider change drastic and costly, creation
inconceivable or unforeseeable, things
coming from nothings all around us; consider
that the more urgent the business is
the more ephemeral: is it a wonder
we are tempted to wish
with a child’s ardency, Let this
creased and baggy garment
be cocoon!

Karen Holmberg
“Ephemerata” first appeared in Southern Poetry Review, 47:1, 2009.