As a child I practically lived outside in the summer. We had no air conditioning then so we survived by staying outside. I remember getting mosquito bites, but it was no big deal. Sadly, in recent years, mosquito bites have become a big deal producing huge welts and frantic itching that even awakens me from sleep. So imagine my indignation when I was attacked by a mosquito the other night as I slept.
I thought of this incident when Christie Wyman (you can find her here) challenged a small group of poets to write a poem from another’s perspective. At first, I found it difficult to think of an object, a character, or a person whose perspective I could take. Then, I started scratching again and my topic became clear. Here is a draft of that poem:
Self-Talk of a Mosquito
You know, I’ve been through a lot already in my life. I’ve escaped dragonflies from above and fish from below. Now it’s my turn to feast. Oh my…I’ve caught you sleeping. Where should I begin? First, let me just slide in here Between your fingers… This skin is thin—such a tender, delicate spot. Yikes! Here come the scratchers. That was fast. I’d better move on. What about that sleek forearm or the squishy spot on your tricep? Mmmmm…juicy. Can I possibly penetrate those tense, tight trapezius muscles? I’m going to try. Here goes! Good thing you’re still sleeping and don’t notice my voice. This muscle is tough, but you won’t miss the tiny bit of blood I take. You’ll know I’ve been here By the spit I leave behind. It’s just a little anticoagulant to thin your delicious blood. Scratching again? Scratching still? Antihistamines, I’ve heard, might help. Thank you. You’ve been a most gracious host.
In September, I started teaching my granddaughter to read over Zoom. It’s one of the blessings of being retired. I have the time to build a relationship with Alice that I missed with her older siblings all the years I was working full-time at school. Alice has come a long way from not knowing all her letters and sounds to this week’s lessons using -nk.
Some of you may recognize this drill for teaching students word parts. Alice and I have been working with this pattern. She was ready to give it a try in a book called Stink Bugs.
We were reading along and Alice was decoding very well. She decoded rostrums which was pretty impressive. Did you know that a stink bug has a rostrum which is like a long straw for a mouth? It can stick its rostrum into berries and flowers to drink. When not eating, it tucks the rostrum under its belly between its legs. Pretty handy.
Next we read about the life cycle of the stink bug. The pictures were vivid. I was having a great time learning about stink bugs (which have migrated to Virginia only recently). Alice clearly wasn’t having as much fun.
“Excuse me, Grandma. I don’t mean to be rude, but why are we reading THIS book?” She was so earnest. I had to chuckle a little as I explained that we were reading it to practice -nk words. Then I mentioned that it’s good to read nonfiction because we can learn cool stuff. “But Grandma, stink bugs are gross and icky!”