Homegrown Scientist


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.


I was

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.


This poem is about: 
My family


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