The acceptable face of insects

Butterflies
a bit like dragon flies
are the acceptable face of insects.
We don’t mind them
of even quite like them.
They’re pretty and flutter nicely
they don’t scuttle like beetles
or slither like worms.
They don’t eat shit
or the dead either (apparently).
People stand there and if they’re lucky
they get covered with them.
We put them on our kids’ lunchboxes,
the brochures of banks.
A stand-in for lightness,
for summer and delicacy.

The thing with insects
with butterflies even
is that they can die very suddenly
with the swipe of a hand
or the beak of a bird
but in essence there are so many of them
that they live forever.

The thing with insects
is that you can kill them by the truckload
without compunction or feeling
the human weight of killing.
How we feel about it for the most part
is based on how much feeling
we imagine what we’re killing to have.
Molecules nothing. Ants not much.
You kill a dog and for the most part
you feel bad about it.
Even more so for a child or a parent
or some other kind of human being.

A cat. Imagine a cat. You’d feel bad
about having to kill a cat. Poor thing.
We measure the birth of our psychopaths
by the fact that they used to tie fire crackers
to the tails of lone strays.
Not at all normal.
But not insects, apart from butterflies,
not right. We wouldn’t take kindly
to a man who crushed them up
one after another in his bare hands
(Pin to a board is mostly alright
but only if it was a hundred years ago
and done precisely).

Today I saw the eye of a butterfly
and in the same moment
saw mechanical beauty and death.
The mathematics of it
The black honeycomb of so many lenses.
This was a dead butterfly
but still quite perfect looking
as is their way.

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