by Rhonda Schmidt
At eight years old, I knew bugs and dirt.
I knew bare feet, weeping willows, and sunshine.
My home was the yard behind my house,
the yard where I sat with my brother, my dog, my turtle.
Days passed slowly there, cicadas hummed loudly,
calling attention to the quiet house in front.
Our dog, old and almost blind, was our comfort.
We told him everything, and with one ear cocked sideways,
he listened as we buried our face in his soft fur.
We shared our yard with doodle bugs.
Plump little larvae,
they built homes of sand, perfect little pits,
scattered under the dead oak tree.
There they stayed until they grew and took flight,
we watched them work,
as they flicked sand into the air, moving backwards,
Then we gathered little sticks and stirred the sand lightly,
thrilled as we watched them rise to the top of the dirt,
and smiled as they scurried to hide,
sometimes catching one,
feeling the little feet tickle our fingers.
Maybe we set our destiny in motion,
for we would leave our backyard that summer,
our tears and pleading ignored,
our sticks and turtle left behind, the cicada’s silent now.
And so we sat in our father’s Chevy,
his cigarette smoke stung our eyes, his gruff voice offered nothing.
Our eyes wide, our voices silenced,
we pulled deep into ourselves, and waited.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo I am eight years old, in my backyard with my beagle, Babe (Midland Texas, 1968).
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In our family, we moved often—every three to four years. This was hard for my brother and me. The memory of digging for doodle bugs is a good one. And even though not everyone has seen doodle bugs, they are interesting little guys.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rhonda Schmidt started writing in her fifties, after working as a Registered Nurse for 30 years. She is a graduate student at Southern Methodist University in the Masters of Liberal Studies program. She is a native Texan, living in Dallas, and yearns to move to any place where summer does not resemble hell.