Sunday, May 20, 2007


Inspiration can come from the most wonderfully unexpected places. Today it came from Clare, someone I've never met who asked me a question for which I did not know the answer.

Clare commented on the Gingersnap eyes post and asked me if curly-bugs were the same as roly-poly bugs. I had no idea, having called them potato bugs myself, since I was a kid. Fortunately, I have a friend in Wikipedia, and there I learned of the small marvel, Armadillidium vulgare, commonly known as the potato bug, curly-bug, roly-poly bug, sow bug or woodlouse. Amazingly, these tiny creatures are more closely related to shrimp and crabs than to other "bugs", belonging to the sub-phylum Crustacea. Spiders and insects are also arthropods, but belong to the sub-phyla of Chelicerata and Hexapoda, respectively.

For those of you whose eyes are beginning to glaze over, bear with me. Curly-bugs are a huge deal here at the Big Red House. While Jimmy claims that his favorite bug is the butterfly, he spends a lot more up-close-and-personal time with curly-bugs (largely, I suspect, because they're easier to catch). As his mother, I feel duty-bound to be up to speed on his favorite creatures so that I can educate him as accurately as possible when he asks all those inevitable "Why?" questions. And lucky me, I get to learn something in the process. So, thanks to Clare, I get to learn and be creative all in the same day because in the midst of all this enlightenment, the curly-bug also became my inspiration for a poem—how cool is that?

Curly-bug Envy

I, too, would seem to be
closely related to a crab
(to confirm
just ask those who’ve seen me
before breakfast)
the resemblance ends there
for I’ve
no tiny arthropod body
with which to scuttle
under a stone
when it would do myself
and others
the most good
no segmented arthropod body
with which to curl
into a minute ball
pulling my hardened outer shell
tightly around myself
shielding from shame
my softest secret parts
I’m left to covet
that most lowly and capable
of crustaceans
the humble curly-bug.

1 comment:

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks for a very informative post! It's great that the curly bug inspired you to write a poem!