Literary Reflections: Under The Skin

This month in Literary Reflections, Kim Todd’s gorgeous essay, “Under the Skin: Lessons in Transformation. ” Here’s a taste:

When I discovered I was pregnant, I was knee-deep in research for a book on an adventure-loving woman who, 300 years ago, at the age of 52, sailed to South America from Amsterdam to study insects. My desk lay buried under notes on Maria Sibylla Merian and her pioneering investigations of metamorphosis, the change of caterpillar to butterfly. Stacks of books detailed how she and her peers, at the dawn of science, explored questions of development and transformation. How does a creature gain new parts, either a human embryo growing lungs or a caterpillar sprouting wings? They wrangled with the enigma of self divided. Larva and moth. Mother and child: Were they one, or two?

Suddenly, the mysteries probed in these seventeenth-century treatises were unfolding under my skin. Within weeks, my hair developed a luster beyond the magic of the most expensive conditioners. Insomnia, a clean, hard light bulb of wakefulness, switched on reliably at 3 a.m. A three-mile run had been part of my routine for years, but now I was limping back, gasping, after a few blocks. A trip to the ob/gyn not long after revealed that I was breathing not just for two, but for three. Twins.

Head on over to Literary Mama to read the rest!

Image from Maria Merian’s Dissertatio de Generatione et Metamorphosibus Insectorum Surinamensium, The Hague, 1726 edition.

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