Thursday, February 24, 2022

Day 6

There was a dragonfly in the pool, up against the wall. We weren’t sure it was alive. I scooped it out a bit carelessly and now it lay in the spilled water at poolside, wings tangled and bent. But it moved. Three of its four wings were stuck together on one side. I figured fixing this was essential to the thing’s flight and so to its survival. I was able to pry them apart painstakingly, like layers of wet tissue paper. They were separate now but still heavy with water. The bug moved and even flinched its wings but seemed stunned, uncertain.

We automatically ascribe human qualities to animals of course, especially qualities of thought. It seemed certain to me that this creature was narratizing its ordeal to itself as we might: Fuck. How the fuck am I wet? How am I going to fly now? Am I dying? Is this it?

The thing suddenly hopped an inch or two and took flight. Right back into the pool. I took it out again and placed back it on the tile. Its wings were fucked up again but even worse. They were rolled up and bent, rolled up pin-shaped, bent like rabbit ears. I went and tore off a corner of my bookmark and used it to try to work them back into shape. They were impossibly delicate—I couldn’t believe they didn’t tear. From time to time its legs moved. Not dead yet. It kind of worked but the wings were still crumpled and misshapen.

Now I wondered if that was my fault. I’d swooped in pretending to be a savior, my daughter watching. Yes, I’d be the miracle man who’d restore flight to a doomed and stricken insect—its insignificance didn’t matter; in fact it made the endeavor all the more poignant.

There was something else my new friend might be saying: Fuck this asshole! What the fuck does he think he’s doing? Does he think he’s fucking helping me? Keep your fingers off me, fuckface. I’m trying to take care of myself here. To dry off a goddamn minute and fly. Away from you.

Yes, I was certain my interference had done more harm than good. Other than removing it from the pool, I should have left it alone. This is an evolved bug. Its wings can right themselves. It knows how to get back on its feet and in the air. It’s such human vanity to imagine we’re helping. To think our petty meddling actions are essential all the goddamn time. 

I swam away for a minute, disconsolate. When I looked again the thing was on its back, legs wriggling. I turned it over. Still seemed fucked up. But alive. I gave up now. It was never going to fly with those fucked wings a thoughtless human being had manipulated. Again I swam away, thinking fuck it.

But then I did come round to have a final look. It was gone.