Home > Insecta > My Bug Collection of Stories

My Bug Collection of Stories

December 10, 2007

I squash a lightning bug and smear its glowing pieces across my cheeks. The killing is a dare, and within the adolescent caste system, I become a warrior. But beyond this June night, boldness is no triumph. Parents swat brazen children. Entomologists place lids on jars and pin down grasshoppers.

I learn to turn myself inside out, wear on the surface my skeleton, peek out from behind my sternum, corral developing breasts in a boney white fence. Bugs survived millions of years just like this.

Some insects click. Some hiss. I rub my exposed shoulder blades together ’til they moan. It is the sound rocks make while waves dull their edges.

My bones weave around me like basket reeds. I sit inside with berries and flowers and bread for grandmother. I swing through the forest on the arm of a little girl. I let her face the wolf.

Bugs developed wings long before bats and birds. I think about that prehistoric moment, insects flying safely in the air, no predators evolved enough to pursue them. I want to be like that, a few steps ahead of danger.

With a flashlight and a book, I crouch beneath the covers. I hide inside a wooden horse, preparing to sneak out and infest the city.

A life can be less than a day if you’re a mayfly. But if you’re born queen of a termitarium, you’ll last five decades. Butterflies and moths live only months or weeks, so many drawn helplessly to the light of my flickering face. I am a warrior again. I hold behind my back a net on the end of a stick.

by Carolee Sherwood

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  1. December 10, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    I love this. Would never have predicted that I could feel this strong a connection w/ bugs. Nice work, Carolee!

  2. polkadotwitch
    December 10, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    thanks, shelley! bugs creep me out but i find them fascinating. it’s a strange dynamic — i can’t look away.

  3. December 11, 2007 at 2:07 pm

    This is so excellent. Clean, spare, strong language; surrealist realism. I especially love IV. Thanks!

  4. December 11, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    what great compliments, Jessamyn. thank you. i’m proud to be able to write a piece that is clean and sparse. this theme was terrific!

  5. vicki
    December 20, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    thank you for this!
    A delight…that has stretched my brain to see and imagine in new ways.

  6. polkadotwitch
    December 21, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    thanks, vicki! it was fun to write. … and i credit qarrtsiluni with the whole “insect” idea for stretching my imagination. probably wouldn’t have “gone here” without the prompt.

  7. Dena
    October 27, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    Just stumbled upon this today while goggleing family names you are a talented niece call sometime love ya

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