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collecting insects

writing & drawings, 2016

* insect collecting equipment: 1. insect net, 2. killing jar, 3. forceps, 4. relaxing jar, 5. spreading board and pinning block, 6. insect pins and labels, 7. storage box.


My father taught me to rescue bees from the pool. He took my tiny hands in his and made them into a ladle. Slowly he dipped them in the water, aligned them with precision and brought them up through the surface. He let go of my hands — I held a scoop of water with a bee floating on top. But my fingers had leaks, and soon spasmed with the light touch of wings and stinger. The bee was struggling in the pool again, so my father repeated the movement, this time delicately opening a crevice in between my palms to let the water and the bee fall over the tile.


I began to swim around the blue rectangle looking for ailing insects. After the rescue operation, I left them to recuperate on the edges of the pool. The next day I came to check on them and there was none left to be seen. My father said they had flown away, but maybe he had just gotten rid of the corpses.











The bed of a sunflower is its own garden, concentric circles of florets stretching from the budding center to the withering edges. Each day a new row blossoms into young flower-men, stretching out pollen-bearing stamens for hummingbird or bee. Overnight these limbs retreat and by morning the florets wake up mature women, pollen their only desire before drying away.


The honeybee searches for nectar. Each day it finds it closer to the center, served willingly with a straw. A flower knows the bee will come. A flower knows the bee will revel in its flowerbed, drink from it, and eventually fly away — its fuzz covered in yellow. Somewhere, another flower awaits.










The mosquito craves blood. She has eggs growing inside of her and they are hungry before they are born. She herself hasn't eaten since being a larva, and never has she tasted the warmth of the meal she now blindly seeks, guided only by the wisdom of instinct. She cannot smell blood, but she can smell heat.


My mother said my blood must be sweet. Maybe she meant it is hot. When other people carry their ankles bare, mosquitoes still choose to pierce the thick denim that covers my thigh. In the Amazon, by the margins of the acid river Solimões, a mosquito born from friendlier waters must have traveled long and far to clench her needle on my neck.











Bees never frightened me. When there were cans of soda outdoors, and my friends would wave their hands and try to slap them away, I’d say “They only sting when threatened. Stand still.”


One time I was retrieving a hammock from the balcony before it rained, and when I reached around the looped edge to unhook it, I stung myself on a bee. My mother removed the poisonous thorn with her fingernails, but my thumb still swelled to double its size. That’s how I realized maybe I should fear bees, or at least the potential of a bee.












Termites are both flying and crawling creatures. On humid nights when the windows are open and the air still, they come. Most of the time we only find wings on the floor and sawdust under the wooden doors. Once I came home in time to see the black bodies crawling over my bed covers. They never made it into wood.









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