Ladybird Year


All winter, ladybirds have crept out of the woodwork,
cracks in windows and doors, curtain folds.
I’ve been removing them from the danger
of the computer desk and keyboard
onto the ice rink of the windowsill.

Come spring’s few sunlit weeks
they were roaming the window pane,
exploring outside new leaves and flowers.

But I remember a spring, exploring local footpaths
we found them smothering the chestnut fence,
oozing like jam from every crack and fissure.
When summer came hot breathed across the rooftops
they rose en masse in clouds of blooded dust
thickening the air, a plasma of frenzied insects.

We watched from stifled rooms
reluctant to go out, afraid
we might breathe them into our nostrils
or mouths, trap them in our ears or hair,
shuddering as the day grew dark
with their last wild display,
fear stirred by the mad black beetle
beneath each bright red coat


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