A Blue Morpho, sable and teal, velvet powder
flocked on pinned, flightless wings. A monarch,
burnt umber and ebony, preserved in a permanent
hover. A memory unearthed browsing a book
of entomology. A house stay with a family my mother
knew while my parents traveled. The son and his
constant friend, both ten like me, rough boys to my
brotherless point of view, loud blurs of threat
and action. We were stuck with each other.
I trailed behind them on a summer morning,
made useful by holding extra jars. Climbing over
a fence in a stranger’s yard, the boys crept the long
garden rows with the sleek grace of thieves while
I stood under clouds of insect frenzy looking
for movement behind the house windows. Bees
loped through strobes of light, landing on my arms
and shoulders. I practiced stillness. The boys plucked
captures from their nets, placed the protesting insects
into glass jars holding tissues soaked with nail polish,
I ignored their wilting flutters. When a yellow butterfly
drifted past my statue self, I caught it in an open jar.
A beauty, the boys said. At the house, we looked up
each find in well-thumbed reference books, they wrote
the common and Latin names in careful print. We
roamed the yards of strangers all week, taking turns
with nets and jars. Drank chocolate milk while watching
cartoons, avoided chores and adults. In the fall,
back at school, we acknowledged each other with brief
nods, returning to our separate lives except at recess.
They kept the tough boys from throwing dodge balls
at my head or taunting me as I sat reading, for reasons
they never explained to anyone.
Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 2.
See all items about Susan Moorhead