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Wednesday: Organza roadkill.

At first, I thought it some sort of elegant adornment from a well-wrapped birthday present. But that's ridiculous, I thought. Around here, the chic presents bear Purple Ronnie tags, or pink ribbons with sequins. Sequins that spell out appropriate words, such as "bling" or "knickers." Or perhaps "minger."

No, this was most definitely an insect.

I had never really seen a dragonfly before. Not up close. Phobia meant that I'd catch the silhouette, then promptly flee. I remembered their shadows from Bible camp; I'd mistaken them for demons. The boards full of stuck bug corpses at museums were of no interest whatsoever; not only would they be creepy, my reasoning went, they'd also be dried. Phobia jerky. Brittle. Not quite right.

This one was soft. Plump.

It seemed intact, at least until I noticed how it fluttered in the breezes. Something had glued the underside of its head to the sidewalk, tenuously anchoring it there. The rest of the creature fluttered up, forming forty-five degree angles with the ground. I knew its mercury eyes couldn't be holding it down, but it would have made sense if they had. Nothing about it was visibly crushed, but plainly it was broken past repair. As if you could mend a dragonfly.

Its wings were just shy of invisible. After a summer of crane flies and moths, I hadn't expected them: small silver nets, edged with gold, playing with the dying sun. Tiny organza ribbons on a wine-stained bamboo body. Tiny organza ribbons on a segmented flute, held down by mercury balls.

If I'd taken it home, it might have crumbled, and where would I have put it? Where would I have kept the sun? I had no camera; I could walk home and get mine, then return, but by then the light would have faded. Perhaps a passing cyclist might crush it; perhaps a pedestrian might tread upon it. If I waited til tomorrow, time and wind and rain and foot would grind it into pulp, then dust, and then there would be nothing.

Such is the way of things: I saw a dragonfly today, and it was already gone.

Posted by Wednesday Burns-White at September 16, 2005 3:47 PM


Comment from: eben posted at September 16, 2005 4:58 PM

Now that was some stirring prose. Damn.

Comment from: SeanH posted at September 16, 2005 7:28 PM

So, this is what Websnark has given me. If anyone asks what makes a good blog, what the whole point of blogging is anyway, I can tell them that it's when Eric Burns or Wednesday White take a trip to the mall or seeing an insect and turn it into poetry.

Comment from: Plaid Phantom posted at September 16, 2005 7:29 PM

M'lady, thou art amazing. Your words glisten like the dewdrops of a hazy dawn. Or something like that.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at September 16, 2005 8:18 PM

*headsmack* Right. The last line is my subconscious reminding me of "I Saw A Bird Fly Away" by Dar Williams.

And I've been running uphill, panting, punching at the air,

Fighting what's been pushing me down, as if it's really there.

And so I asked the light of the day, what's this rush for heaven,

Then I saw a bird fly away, and I could not ask again.

And I saw all this climbing, climbing, just as far from heaven,

Then I saw a bird fly away, and I started climbing again.

...and thanks, guys.

Comment from: MrPerson posted at September 16, 2005 8:47 PM

Pretty Kafkaesque :)

Comment from: vilious posted at September 16, 2005 9:19 PM

When a dragonfly is still long enough to see clearly, it is probably in trouble. You saw this one clearly for a moment as it was checking out, and maybe that bought it a little more of another kind of life.

I wonder if anything could have been done to free it. It would have taken hands like a surgeon's.

Comment from: Wednesday posted at September 16, 2005 11:35 PM

Very likely nothing. There was a clear near-break at the neck, like someone had folded the neck over before glueing it to the sidewalk.

I had no idea they withered quickly.

Comment from: DarkStar posted at September 17, 2005 12:02 AM

And thus the moment is captured as purely in prose as any camera, as any painting, could. The dragonfly is frozen in time, locked in words. For a moment I saw it. I did. Stuck there on the ground. Helpless, timeless. Thank you.

Comment from: Phil Kahn posted at September 17, 2005 1:07 AM

I saw a Dragonfly on the sidewalk the other day as well. By the time I saw it it was already crisped in the sun. It didn't move. I leaned down and blew on it. No reaction.

It was huge.

Comment from: Sempiternity posted at September 17, 2005 1:43 AM

Wow. Just wow. One has precious few such moments when something so plain, so ordinary, becomes something wonderous, something meaningful. Thanks for capturing one of them...

Comment from: vark posted at September 17, 2005 3:09 AM

Yesterday and the day before I've been sharing my room with a praying mantis. Haven't seen her today. Nice change of pace from the roaches.

Comment from: John Duncan posted at September 17, 2005 8:13 AM

In Louisiana they call them Mosquito Hawks. Adds a whole new dimension, huh? Ta for the prose W.

Comment from: UrsulaV posted at September 18, 2005 10:06 AM

I saw a wasp attack and kill a cicada yesterday. Somehow "It was like a little nature show, man!" lacks the elegance of your prose, but dude, it was like a little nature show. I knew stuff like that had to go on, but I'd never actually seen it happen.

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