Friday, October 26, 2012

Dead Body

Under the bright lights of my work table, I take a morgue photograph of Dragonfly, who was found dead on my husband's work bench.

Time of Death: Unknown. Bernie's work bench has been a shameful landfill since the last time he shoveled everyone else's detritus off it, which would have been about the time of our kitchen remodel (could that only have been a mere year and some ago??) -- unfortunately, the work bench is right outside the door to the garage, and whatever doesn't fit in the house ends up piled on. My work table is along the wall in another area of the garage, and since I am known to be annoyed (go freakin' ballistic) if stuff is plopped in my work area, Bernie and his bench and his mild, sweet ways get the random dumps.

Anyway, how long had Dragonfly been there? Don't know.

Cause of Death: Unknown. Aside from deterioration of the wings, which could have been caused by having detritus piled on top of the body, or battering against a solid object, the cadaver is intact. No bites have been taken out of it; no breakage of vital exoskeleton is evident. It was not, then, caught by a large praying mantis, which would have chewed the head off, or a crow, which would have eaten the whole bug.

Place of Death: Uncertain. In 15 years of residency in this house, we have never had a dragonfly zoom into the house or garage. Did Dragonfly sneak in to make his death a last statement of ferocity, so that when he was found on the workbench behind some burnt-out lightbulbs and jars of long-collected miscellaneous nails and screws, he would make the hairs on the back of Bernie's neck jump up in startlement? Or was it more likely that any ambulatory member of this family might have brought dead Dragonfly in for a closer examination on a whim, forgetting where Dragonfly's remains were temporarily interred? (I say "ambulatory" so as to completely exonerate baby Joan of any complicity in Dragonfly's demise.)

Even in death, the head and abdomen preserve a remarkable gloss, as though polished and buffed, even in this dusty clime; even after months, if not a year, the framework and seemingly fragile panes of much of the wings are intact.

If Dragonfly were a vintage car, the joints of the wings on the thorax might have been detailed and waxed at a high class car wash only hours before the discovery of his corpse.

The leading edge of the wing is reinforced, but what shall we make of that single dark pane? Identification? A distance gauge?

My father used to aggravate my mother to near apoplexy now and again, by telling her that when he died, he was going back into the earth like a dead dog, that he neither expected nor hoped for any afterlife at all. I don't actually know what he really believed, because Mom would never have tolerated an open religious discussion. The best I can do is argue with him from a distance of years ... and death ... and say, "Well, Dad, this is just a damn bug, and I still admire the life that was in it. Don't you think that I still wish I could hear you buzz and get into things and hear your crazy wild laugh?"

Dragonfly, find my dad and bite him on the nose and tell him it's from me.

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