My inspiration for “Do Butterflies Think on Their Youth” came primarily from a scene I watched in a nature documentary. The footage showed a caterpillar standing on the edge of a leaf and flailing all of its arms into the air. That looked to me like a very emotional scene and so I wanted to write about what thoughts or feelings could provoke a caterpillar to do that. I had also just finished Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein around the time I wrote this piece. The concept of a creature being born into a world all alone but fully cognizant was still very much in my head. Originally published in Catch, a campus literary magazine at Knox College.

“Do Butterflies Think On Their Youth?”

by Samuel Lisec

I used to be exactly like you. I was born into this slimy world, perched up somewhere high, and the first thing I did was look out in a fit of terror. The sun was slipping like a tear down the sky and all of the light I had ever seen was now falling over the hills, being laid to rest. I thought, is it always going to be like this? Or was I born at just the right time to witness the world in the throes of irrevocable change? A stream of warm, sullen breezes buffeted me senseless, and while I clutched the leaf I laid upon tightly, its waxy surface only felt lifeless and mechanical. So I stood up on all of my legs and flailed my grubby hands into the air, grasping nothing. I was alone and the only things around me were these flowers, these leaves, these eggs—all of them empty, just as mine now was. Where did they all go? Goodbye, I mumbled. That first night I lived must be how you feel now. Believe me, you will not stay in this form forever.