[pictured: a potato bug]
I liked those days when I kept my gaze
close to the ground, although I'm sorry
about that sound I repeated in line one.
I saw black beetles, which gave off an
awful stench, and I saw potato-bugs,
large, delicate, decorated, slow--
almost like Art Deco. Yes, I saw
salamanders, those wee amphibians,
amost too gentle for Earth, connoisseurs
of shadow. Sight of scorpions and
black-widow spiders injected me
with terrible lore and jolts of adrenalin.
I saw ants hauling dead moths like
stiff canvas sails, and I watched ant-lions
waiting for prey to slip down the side
of the terrible sandy funnel. I read
Earth closely. It's the best book ever,
after all, especially when you're a kid,
even if you're a kid who likes to read.
I sneaked up on the frog pond and watched
frogs copulate, all of them at once, and
what a cacaphony! Later I saw the
tadpoles, which grew legs--freakier
than any horror movie Hollywood
had to offer the National Broadcasting
Company. I learned to stand tall and notice
humans almost exclusively. This is known
as "joining society" or "growing up" or
whatever term you prefer. It's one of
those necessary things. Life may be
better spent with one's nose close to
soil and stone, eyeballing bugs and
all that stuff. No, I don't mean becoming
a "naturalist." That would ruin everything.
This isn't nostalgia. It's just preference.
Spiders, insects, worms, amphibians,
reptiles, and birds delivered the goods
curiosity sent for from the mail-order
catalogue, is all I'm saying. These
creatures did some weird, interesting
shit, just as a part of their ordinary
day, okay? I'm an adult now, no
major complaints today, but I do
wish for children that they may live
near interesting ground and be
allowed to read it if they want to.
Hans Ostrom Copyright 2008 Hans Ostrom