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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 25, 2017.
About this Poem 

“Apparently, ladybugs will enter houses in cold weather seeking warmth, and though they appear dead, they are hibernating. Sometimes, of course, they are just dead.”
—Hayan Charara

The Symbolic Life

They kept showing up, for days,
dead on the windowsill,
and for days I did nothing about the ladybugs
except to ask if their entering the house
unnoticed and dying before I saw them
was symbolic.
Thinking so was easy.
They symbolized birth and death,
change and rebirth.
It was also possible the tiny beetles
embodied an inborn need
to show themselves,
to turn up in every and any place,
even as the dried-out remains of the once lively.
Or they stood for the burden of being one thing
relieved by becoming another,
which all the world’s children suffer.

This went on and on, and could’ve gone on
forever, so finally I opened the window
and blew them into the wide open
because everything and everyone should get a chance
to be mourned, and they got theirs,
but first they had to die, which is life,
not symbolism.

Copyright © 2017 by Hayan Charara. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Hayan Charara. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 25, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Hayan Charara

Hayan Charara

Hayan Charara is the author of Something Sinister (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2016).

by this poet

poem

The trees alongside the fence
bear fruit, the limbs and leaves speeches
to you and me. They promise to give the world
back to itself. The apple apologizes
for those whose hearts bear too much zest
for heaven, the pomegranate
for the change that did not come
soon enough. Every seed