Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Bug in the Dryer

The problem with my sorry excuse for a career, after a day of meetings in academia, is that I care more about the dead beetle in the dryer tonight.

No wonder I don't have tenure.

Maybe it was a cicada -- I couldn't tell for sure. Its wings were half burned off and it scared me a little: a dead thing in the basement, after all, and me home alone for the first time in months. Where had it been lodged -- what garment did it ride in on for its final scorching trip? I lifted it out with a dryer sheet and carted it upstairs in a fragrant little static-free packet, wanting to treat it with respect. I thought it needed to be back in grass. Oh, easy empathy for the stowaway husk.

But I've dug out Henderson the Rain King by Saul Bellow, which my father read at about my age, and I've dug out You Must Revise Your Life by William Stafford, and I've opened Henderson the Rain King to the first yellowed page and read "What made me take this trip to Africa? There is no quick explanation." I start to smile and I'm so happy both books are at my bedside, I can't wait to read them again. My fluffy pillow in the red pillowcase and the big brass bed seem like objects of a good life and outside the cicadas whirr -- the ones that are still alive, that never ended up doomed in the dryer in somebody's summer shirt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tenure? What's that? You mean you don't teach part-time (no benefits) at two or more institutions?

But she's not bitter.

I am.