Caitlin Elizabeth Thomson
My brother used to collect butterflies, ladybugs,
dusty exoskeletons he pinned to a world map.
I avoided his bedroom, populated
with dark shell's and preserved arachnids.
A Praying Mantis in the position
of authority underneath the lamp.
One Sunday the display cases lay empty;
no Three Horned Beetle or Monarch remained.
Now there were only pins, labels, an empty
map. He blamed the neighbors
and took to the garden, hunting
with cheesecloth nets, lidless containers.
He found only worms, placed them in jars
with dirt, watered them every day.
They aren't insects you know?
he said one evening on the porch,
as I read one step up, an earthworm
rolling on his palm.
Were mice so loud before the absence of birds?
I do not remember hearing them,
only seeing them once or twice a year, running
across the grass or sliding on Formica.
Others insist they were always a problem,
that their cats killed nightly.
I think raspberries smell of fall now,
potatoes tang like beets. When I try
to compare notes, opinions differ,
some swear yolk used to be more orange,
that fall leaves crunched underfoot instead of squishing
quietly into less.
My husband claims nothing has changed but the time
we have to notice minutia. Once a day, he dusts
our son's green train set,
that I could swear was blue, before.
We caught the sun in our throats,
swallowed it for breakfast.
Dreamed of the white horse,
but lived here, between the brush and fortress,
in a barn with cathedral windows,
the glass long ago drained of color.
We built houses like cradles in silence
as the earth crawled towards home.