Caddisfly Larvae

Fiona Benson

Trichoptera

At first we take its chamber
for a twig –
a dark length
among the dredgings;

then it moves,
and we see it is a sleeve
stitched and glued,
careful découpage

of wet, black leaf.
Feelers extrude
like tobacco shreds
from a roll-up cigarette.

Then the nymph hauls out,
its lemon belly
feathery with gills
like an exposed nerve,

a tender knuckle
emerging from its foreskin,
pleasure branching.
Soon it will cap

its chamber shut,
like a cartridge of gunpowder;
melt inside, alchemise,
then, come summer,

explode, with wings
that slope like a gabled roof
should it perch;
but mostly it’s flown

beyond its hovelled self,
hurtling gold, a flicker
in the bright-fired morning
of desire, its open mouth.