Rhododendron caterpillar

rusty tussock moth caterpillar

My room in hospital is a gloomy cave for me to hide in. I feel myself cocooned in the shade here, a wonky creature coming back to life. Private. Letting myself feel whatever emotions arise and move my altered limbs unseen.

A beautiful caterpillar crawls up the rhododendron bush outside my window and wobbles about at the tip of a leaf by the glass. It is spiky and furry, orange and yellow and black.  It has great black antlers, and tufts along its back and bum that resemble bundles of toothbrush bristle. It has big shiny black eyes and white jaws. I peer through the grimy window into its face.

The caterpillar walks to the very end of the leaf and looks down. Its antlers, face and front half droop straight downwards in the air. It stays like that for ages. Then, eventually, it edges back, turns around and sets off to walk down the plant the sensible way. I identify with the way it balances purposeful movement and utter lost-ness.


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