THE YEAR THE LADYBIRDS CAME
'Love set you going like a fat gold watch.'
(Sylvia Plath, "Morning Song")
The watch sleeps coiled in the corner
of your room. In the hospital
whiteness, when you had sunk
and I could not warm the wreck
of your body, they asked if I wanted a lock
of your hair to keep. I said no,
hoping to send you whole
into the next world, not knowing they would pick
you apart, regardless, searching
for a black box.
That was the year the ladybirds came.
They arrived earlier in the spring –
while your head tilted
on the pillow to catch the birdsong –
thronging on the apple tree
between promises held in silky
blossom. Black and red glyphs
When that was done, they vanished.
I never knew their young, imagined
mothers whispering into unhatched eggs – Fly
before they see you. Fly before they tie
the 'why' to your legs like lead
balloons. Fly before I forget
you are not for keeping.
You have your place among the elements.
Text and photo by Junyi Chew