The Memento Mori Topic Trumps the Carpe Diem Tradition
On a sunny, almost cloudless day late in summer — not that late though — on the same day that I find my first fallen maple leaf of the season, I discover another casualty: a bumble bee, still perfectly intact, freshly dead, with a reflexive twitch still alive in his limbs, lying inert on the porch.
No more exploring of the fluorescent folds of blossoms. No more sipping of nectar and the incidental pollination. The bee is still in his work-clothes, a livery of black and gold, and is encrusted with the pollen from this morning's assignment. But his limbs, all three pairs, are folded formally over his thorax and abdomen.
Is it possible to memorialize a bee without descending into bathos? I hold the corpse, not yet dry or brittle, in my palm. Perhaps a prayer would be appropriate: God, if you exist —
but I reject this. Better to lose the wager than to hedge. The body is flung reverently into the soil at the base of the shrub where, beyond death — without any mystical speculation I can say — his atoms will undergo a transformation.
(August 25, 2005)