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death of an entomologist - prathiksha


When you press leaves,

the events of the day

also get caught,

the entomologist told me

and each of the twenty teeth

I had then

listened with undivided attention

as I watched her carefully place

the single rhododendron leaf

I had taken to her

between the pages

of a brown hardbound book

she told me was about mayflies.


She had lived alone

in a house across the street

that always looked a little unkempt

despite the absence of visible clutter.

And, if my mother visited her

and took me along,

she'd let me run my fingers

along the glass frames

that contained insects

pinned in an alphabetical order.

Aphididae. Antona. Bombus.

Cicadidae. Delina. Eucolaspis.


I turn the pages

that have now turned purple

to find a bleached summer lilac

and the morning I had found it

rises around me

in sickly sweet scented fumes.

The morning that I had

found the summer lilac,

someone had found her

dead in her sleep.


When they gathered to arrange her funeral,

I was convinced

that she'd have asked

to be buried with her glassframed insects.

(Dust to dust, see?)

And, in the moment that I realised

that she had not,

I had loved her a little less.

Maybe because in my head,

she lived alone

because her eccentricity

occupied too much space,

and maybe because in my head,

the death of an entomologist

would not be so unceremonious.


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