They kept drowning. At the beginning we patrol the pool, scoop them out and let them dry--stare into their depthless black irises, at the red and blue circles of symmetry on their backs, feel their tufts of hair and six suction cup feet on the palms of our hands. Set a caterpillar down and it gains momentum--bends, draws its back feet almost to its head, a loop of plant flesh that stalls quivering in the air, then it extends forward, lurching along the cement, fast in comparison, but crawling, receding. Slow.
We put duct tape face up around the trees. In a few weeks there is rustling green and red fur that wraps around the trunks. They drop from the sky and we pick the forms off our heads and off our shoulders--young green worms and older furry larva. Dangling from the sky on silk threads and puppet strings. Pockets of them in the flowerpots, clusters on the swings.
You can hear their mouths--munching, eating the branches, the leaves--devouring the trees’ skin and hair, leaving nothing but their bones. Over the chewing you can also hear the front door bell--the one that’s broken now, crushed by use with its wires’ metal tips breathing oxygen--ringing. Bills flood in, signs go up, gas turns off.
An alert. They tell us to stay inside. They take to the skies in crop dusters and bomb the county. Save the trees, save our sanity. I keep Dannie-boy on our back porch, keep him on his leash. Don’t let him eat the grass, don’t let him drink the water. My dad sits at the kitchen table with his head in his hands, he makes sure do we eat, that we can make do. It’s a juggling mess--abundance and not enough--billions of their caterpillar bodies, thousands of drops of poison, too little lives blinking out and turning brown, too little work, so many numbers to pay.
In the fall, the air is filled with the sound of Gypsy moths--flaps, rustles, wings escaping into the atmosphere. We catch them in our bags of Jasmine rice and they frantically brush past our faces from the pantry to reach the outside world--out of the house we manage to keep.
About the Author:
Sharon Rose is a Junior English Major from New Jersey and has been published in The Door is a Jar.