It is always interesting to me, this business of feeding – of inspiring – one another with our art and poetry . . . 

Buddhist artist Paula Kuitenbrouwer (Mindful Drawing) tells a sweet tale of the near-death of a beetle at her home in the Netherlands.

The tranquil garden-drawing Paula completed to commemorate the day is lovely and the first line of her post is both an homage to her unutterable respect for life and absolute poetry filled with the promise of story.

“I found a Carabidae beetle in a bucket with water and regretted its death by drowning… “

The line put me in mind of Isak Dinesen‘s unforgettable opening for Out of Africa,

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills . . . “

Something about those evocative sentences lets you know there’s a good story to come. And there is.

“It lay there for at least an hour and I hoped so much it would give a sign of life. Then I did the most crazy thing imaginable; I turned it on its back, squeezed it gently, and gave it heart massage (don’t ask). Three drops of water came out. I have no clue why I did such a weird thing. Would somebody tell me he or she had given cardiac massage to a beetle, I would have laughed out loud.” MORE [Paula Kuitenbrouwer]

And so the inspiration for my poem ~

the garden floating in violet and ruby hues,
by the side of the house, a beetle floats too,
so jewel-like, amethyst and brilliant against
the dull gray water, it does not move

it lies there still as the dead of noon across
a bone-colored desert, and her hand so white,
wing-like flutters against its rigor, laying it
on the table, by a pad to sketch with pencils

that minuscule life, no will to release it
into whatever beetle heaven there might be,
laying tender finger to knead a tube-like heart
holding her breath, willing air into spiracles

wishful thinking? a flicker from the antennae?
slight movement of a leg? perhaps, perhaps
some healing pressure, one gentle push,
three drops of water, success in late hours

to heal a beetle, to sketch in varied colors
with time to hug the child and sip hot tea …
a creature saved from death by drowning and
cherish the mindful drawing for a memory

– Jamie Dedes

© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ David Wagner, Public Domain

5 thoughts on “On Regretting Its Death by Drowning

  1. I find the poem evocative and lovely, full of color and matters of life and death, a reaching out of humanity. I like to live in harmony with my environment, but have not trouble slapping a mosquito that has landed on me. On the other hand, I have helped wasps and bees that were trying to swim out of pools before they drowned—a balance of some sort, I suppose.

    I like these lines: “to heal a beetle, to sketch in varied colors
    with time to hug the child and sip hot tea …”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart pangs with memories of going into the living history museum gardens with a pan of lye soap water, plucking invasive Japanese beetles off the crops and plopping them into the drowning tank. I suppose it was less cruel or anachronistic than using pesticides, but their emerald corpses floating in the milky bubbles cry out to me from this poem.


      1. A thorny issue, indeed. I prefer non-violent solutions to “nuisance” – relocation and co-habitation. The museum had its own set of values, including being period appropriate, which influenced policy. Each of us has the responsibility and honor of making decisions about how we live and “do no harm”…no easy answers, no certainty. We don’t “know” when it’s them or us. We get to practice choosing and keep learning.

        Liked by 1 person

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