Insects of France
DeMisty D. Bellinger
The sun won’t go down
It’s late and hot
and Parisians don’t seem to believe
in conditioned air.
Women go around with makeshift
paper fans, fanning their exposed throats
Parisians don’t believe in window screens
Tonight, like last night:
a fly (une mouche)
A mosquito (un moustique)
un papillon noir all came inside
(and a bird on my balcony
balanced like birds do)
here bird: mouche, un moustique
but leave me the black butterfly.
My American clothes are too
And my well-oiled hair
I dodge speaking and avoid scooters
I try not smiling when that is all
I’ve ever known
all that was ever expected of me.
A green bug lands on my brown leg
I think in English
I let it crawl the width of my thigh
[ immigrant immigration
alien or expatriate ]
Music notes for one voice
What is diaspora to this bug?
What do you call songs in unsingable keys?
Is home the same thing here?
I shoo the bug away
thinking how easily I place that word
on other places. Try to remember
where you come from. Try to know
where you’re going.
Before I reached Paris,
Three bites on the thick part of my thigh—
Two of which bunched together—
They heal, then three more
on my ankle.
There was much slapping and even a causality,
But who knows if it’s the mosquito
who has my blood? Who knows
where she travels with ready proboscis
and whether her blood-filled belly’s
content with me?
And what have their grazing left behind?
An itch rife with many diseases.
It’s silly, I know, still I imagine
my blood mingling with so many others
a confused Parisian mosquito
nattering her way around
with a heavy diasporic blood
complicated by a love of country
that does not love her back.
DeMisty D. Bellinger teaches creative writing, women's studies, and African American studies in Massachusetts. Her writing has appeared in print and online, and her chapbook, Rubbing Elbows, is available from Finishing Line Press. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and twin daughters.