The Death of a Dragonfly

When I was little

I would go out into the little woods

in my backyard

and I would collect insects.

 

I loved them all—

the way the caterpillars’ bodies rippled

as they inched across my skin

the way the grasshoppers would

rocket forward

away from me

as I crept up behind them

ready to pounce—

 

I loved the way butterflies danced

almost like mobile kites

let loose

scraps of kites.

 

I held drowsy moths

that clung to my hands

not realizing that

I was human

thinking perhaps

that I was a smooth barked tree

my skin easily grasped

by the tiny hooks on their feet.

 

But most I remember

the dragonflies.

So war-like

so powerful

with black armor

all over their bodies

and their wings like translucent blades

so sharp

they make a zipping sound

as they cut through the air.

 

I tried so many times

to catch them,

waiting for hours on my belly

staring beyond the cattails

that rimmed the lake in my

backyard.

 

I could always see them

just out of sight

across the water

touching its surface

hovering for a second

before zooming up again.

 

Then, finally,

I did catch one.

Just above my head it flew

I jumped,

I swung the net,

I slapped it down.

 

When I reached into the net

I found the dragonfly broken

its wings snapped

and its body crushed.

 

I sat over it for a long time

staring at the little black warrior

I had caught at last.

 

I carried the dragonfly tenderly

out to the water

made a little boat of lake reeds

and sent it sailing—

free.

Dead.

 

I didn’t try to catch

dragonflies anymore.

Some things are better left

unbroken.

Some things should just be allowed

to fly.

When I was a child

a dragonfly taught me that.

The End

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