Poetry and People, Pests, and Plagues

Poetry has had a heavy presence in my life lately.

I’m taking a poetry writing course at Cal Poly currently and I have been experimenting with cliches, haikus, and pushing my writing to new boundaries.

My incredibly insightful big brother, Ryan, has also recently taken up writing more and publishing some of his poetry.

So I’ve just noticed this pattern of poetry making it’s way into my life.

… I’ve also been working with a lot of bugs lately.

I’m taking a class called “People, Pests, and Plagues” and it’s all about insects– anything from bees to cockroaches to spiders (ew) to butterflies.

One of my best friends, Iann, and I have the lab portion together and I can honestly say that someone should be in there filming us while we dissect crickets… it’s worthy of a short, comedic YouTube series.

Admittedly, I’m writing part of this in my bugs class right now.

My professor is going over a bunch of things that I already read in advance, so save your condemnation. What strikes me as funny about this is the timing… he’s going over females eating males during copulation.

Which, strangely, leads me to what I originally intended for this post. I want to share my favorite piece of poetry with you.

It’s An Entomologist’s Last Love Letter, by Jared Singer.

Enjoy.

“Dear Samantha,
I’m sorry
we have to get a divorce.
I know that seems like an odd way to start a love letter but let me explain:
it’s not you.
It sure as hell isn’t me.
It’s just human beings don’t love as well as insects do.
I love you… far too much to let what we have be ruined by the failings of our species.
I saw the way you looked at the waiter last night.
I know you would never DO anything, you never do but…
I saw the way you looked at the waiter last night.

Did you know that when a female fly accepts the pheromones put off by a male fly, it re-writes her brain, destroys the receptors that receive pheromones, sensing the change, the male fly does the same: when two flies love each other they do it so hard, they will never love anything else ever again.
If either one of them dies before procreation can happen both sets of genetic code are lost forever. Now that… is dedication.

After Elizabeth and I broke up, we spent three days dividing everything we had bought together – like if I knew what pots were mine – like if I knew which drapes were mine – somehow the pain would go away.
This is not true.

After two praying mantises mate, the nervous system of the male begins to shut down. While he still has control over his motor functions
he flops onto his back, exposing his soft underbelly up to his lover like a gift.
She then proceeds to lovingly dice him into tiny cubes,
spooning every morsel into her mouth.
She wastes nothing. Even the exoskeleton goes.
She does this so that once their children are born she has something to regurgitate to feed them. Now that… is selflessness.

I could never do that for you.

So I have a new plan: I’m gonna leave you now.
I’m gonna spend the rest of my life committing petty injustices, I hope you do the same.
I will jay walk at every opportunity,
I will steal things i could easily afford,
I will be rude to strangers,
I hope you do the same.
I hope reincarnation is real,
I hope our petty crimes are enough to cause us to be reborn as lesser creatures,
I hope we are reborn as flies,
so that we can love each other as hard as we were meant to.”


Let it sink in. Reread it if you’d like.

I know I’ve read it more times than I can count.

Because sometimes I can’t figure out why I love it so much, but I can try to explain. Both to the reader and to myself… for the millionth time.

I love it because it makes love itself feel insignificant. Did you ever consider love between insects or any other form of romantic animal love besides our own? I didn’t.

And love is supposedly this thing we should be seeking. Humans inherently crave love and this feeling of being wanted, cared for, sought after. And without always knowing why, we follow these paths in our lives that lead us in the direction of love.

The Beatles told us that “love is all you need”. Ed Sheeran practically screams and begs for affection in one of his songs that is literally titled “Give Me Love”.

Prior to reading this poem there was nothing that had ever made me challenge the idea of human love or this idea of “true love” being the end-all. I don’t even think I realized that I considered it that (the end-all) until I became aware that that’s not necessarily even true.

And some may argue that what Singer describes is not ‘real love’. That it’s instinct. That insects act in these ways because it is only natural for them to do so and it is what their species has done for thousands of years.

But isn’t that what love is? Caring for someone in such a way that it’s almost inherent? When you couldn’t force yourself not to?

This is how I view non-romantic love, as well.

I could never stop loving my mom, my dad, or my brother. I could never stop loving my best friends.

And after the female fly mates with the male fly she is forever his, and vice versa.

Can you even imagine loving another person so much, I mean romantically loving, that you would be forever attached to them?

I can’t.

Maybe forever changed, but you can be forever changed by anyone. Anything.

I can’t imagine loving that hard. And it bothers me that little flies that are no bigger than my thumbnail are capable of more vulnerability than I am.

Or at least that I believe I am.

So, in conclusion, I guess I love this piece so much because it challenges me and my way of thinking, which I think needs to be done more often.

People need to challenge each other, respectfully. I believe if we open our minds up to all sorts of thoughts then we can also open ourselves up to all sorts of opportunities and experiences.

Some will turn out great and others might be absolutely miserable, but my brother once told me, “Nobody can stop you from learning.” So whether an experience is awful or amazing, you can always learn from it.

Always.

And I suppose this is what I should probably keep in mind when Iann and I are forced to go work with milkweed bugs at our lab tomorrow.

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