As it appears in the 2012 American River Review
“Keep your garden pest free”
read the words on the container.
What must have been thousands of little red and black bugs
crawling on bits of sawdust and
the corpses of their fallen comrades.
I scooped the beetles out of their plastic prison
and placed the writhing spoonfuls at the base of
each decimated rose bush, watched them scuttle around the dirt
and make their way up the seemingly mile-high stalks.
They climbed ever higher until they reached the savage aphids,
ladybugs following their ladybug nature.
As they ate them, I could imagine them pitching the dead husks
of aphid bodies to the dirt far below.
Except for one, right wing solid black, drawing attention and inspiring fear.
This ladybug was thwarting my plan for aphid genocide,
rallying the pests and showing them sanctuary on the tips of
leaves where the big ladybugs could not walk,
pushing its own kind off of the branches and flying
in an effort to stop the mass murder,
not resting until it had saved every last aphid it could.
Until I plucked it, mid-air and held it
in my hand, wondering why it would defy me and save
what could only be an enemy.
This little ladybug could not remain,
the madness may spread to the others in my
squad of soldiers.
I took it far to the other side of the yard
and stepped on it. Soundly, soundlessly
ending its pleas for change.