Camouflage—A Poetry Prompt for Hiding

Some creatures camouflage themselves in the brilliant colors of predators—snakes and insects particularly. Others disguise themselves as a bad meal, as the viceroy butterfly does in mimicking the monarch. Still others appear as leaves or flowers or petals.

In high school and in marriage, I tried to fade into the walls, into night, into the blank stares ringing me. I chose the bland, the muted, the innocuous. If nonthreatening and easily forgotten were a color, I wore it and stained my skin with it.

What if instead I had camouflaged myself with beauty? Since I could not make my own loveliness in such bleakness, what If had adorned myself with borrowed beauty? The caterpillar pictured below—the camouflaged looper— attaches the petals and stems it eats for food to hide itself as leaf or blossom—simultaneously becoming what it eats and what beauty surrounds it. I doubt attaching Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and strawberries would have granted me anything other than flies and mockery, but I could have pasted others’ brilliance onto my tongue and painted my face to resemble another’s.

Using the example of the camouflaged looper caterpillar, write a poem of you camouflaging yourself with the beauty around you. What do you choose to attach to yourself? Why? What are you hiding from? Who or what does see you?

If you need some sample poems to provide some direction, read “Camouflage” by Henry Carlyle, “Camouflaging the Chimera” by Yosef Komunyakaa, and “To a Wren on Calvary” by Larry Levis. Please share the poems you have found on camouflage.

And, as always, if one of these poets provided inspiration, give credit. Good luck!