My childhood toys were a butterfly net, a kill jar, and a data-book
my freezer: a morgue for junebugs and darkling beetles murdered.
Little kids love ladybugs
innocent, cute, until one bites you or pees on you
then you remember to steer clear
that is the first lesson taught on how to hate bugs.
But I was a different little kid
I was taught to love them, no matter
taught by a man who spoke a language thick like cream
he gave me a jar of corn moths on my bedside table for when I got lonely
I never got tired of hearing him talk
on he’d go about what he loved so dearly
with that voice, to me, he spoke.
Sitting on the dock of the bay, he and I and the enormous dragonfly I caught
Shimmering green on his back, his eyes see all
Mirror mirror, telling the truth.
taught one language before speaking another
taught to be a scientist before I learned to write
taught to understand before I was understood
One day the thick cream turned sour.
One day the numbers I once found comforting decided they didn’t want to stay, they jumped off the page and played tricks with my eyes.
The ladybugs wouldn’t leave.
Covering the pages I had yet to write,
getting thicker and thicker until there were so many they were gone.
A blank page and a tall shadow whispering expectations in my ear.
But the voice of thick cream came back
along with a butterfly net made of mechanisms and mirrors
along with the numbers
along with the ladybugs.
Now it’s the microscopes and lab coats that define the scientist
the freezer is no longer a morgue
now I speak the cream thick language
but he still speaks about what he loves so dearly
and I will never tire of listening.
The dragonfly’s eyes still
mirror mirror telling the truth.
There aren’t as many ladybugs now,
only in the jar on my bedside table for when I get lonely
taught to love them, no matter.