Melissa Hager, Who Says You’re a Lady?

Melissa Hager

After three days dead on the kitchen
table, we hope thousands of her brothers
and sisters get the death notice.
And our warning, “You are not
welcome here.” We sit at dinner,
staring between green beans and apple
pie, daring each other to remove it.
Still, we are satisfied. One is deceased,
incapable of foul odors, obnoxious
orange trails, or bites when least
expected. We hold vigil,
take our chances on luck.

Author’s Comment: Living on top of a mountain is great until hordes of ladybugs invade. This poem is a celebration of every dead ladybug found in the author’s home.

Bio: Melissa “Mel” Hager is a resident of Taylorsville, NC. She has been published in Wild Goose Poetry Review, 234, The Lyricist, Bloodshot Journal of Contemporary Culture, and in various newspaper articles. She is a contributor to Art of Poetry at the Hickory Museum of Art and won 3rd place in the Spring 2013 Poetry Council of NC’s Poetry Slam competition. As the children’s librarian for Alexander County Library, her mission is to encourage youth to explore written and artistic expression.

18 thoughts on “Melissa Hager, Who Says You’re a Lady?

  1. Love it!!! Those bugs invaded our house, and Bill is madly allergic to them. Did you know aphids and lady bugs are paired and often live in crepe myrtle trees. We cut down the tree, got rid of the aphids, and lost the lady bugs. Lady bugs are NOT cute.

    But enough rant…I really like your poem. “Get the death notice” is cleaver, and “incapable of foul odors, obnoxious/ orange trails, or bites” is spot on. Lady bug juice is foul. LOL

    • Love your description of lady bug juice, Helen. “Foul” indeed! How does Bill know he’s allergic? I have suspected something happens to me as well when they swarm, but it might be the gallons of bug spray used that affects my breathing. 😉

  2. I agree. Those little bugs are not ladylike, but awful when they invade a home. I had them for several years and made the mistake of vacuuming them into my vacuum cleaner. The odor would not go away and I had to get rid of the vac. cleaner.
    I like this poem, the clever way you talk about the bugs. It makes me smile. Thanks.

    • Yes, Glenda, sounds like you fully understand our dilemma. Similar situation with a shop vac and my husband happened here. I actually plan to write a poem around that incident someday. 🙂 Thank you for your comment!

  3. Love it– I remember well the year the ladybugs invaded. Here in hordes and now gone again. Where are they when you want them to eat up your bean beetles?

    • Thank you, Brenda! With such a strange summer, I wonder how they’ll do this fall. They sure didn’t help in the garden. It was eaten alive.

  4. Hi, I live in South Carolina and wonder about where those ladybugs come from on an unusual warm sunny day in the midst of the cool spring weather.

    When I lived in Arizona my ex husband took me on a hike and climb to the second from the north peak of “Four Peaks” of rock that top out at approximately 6,000 or 8,000 or so feet? northeast of Phoenix. We started the hike in evergreens but soon began climbing up crevices and the trees became scraggly bushes and boulders more common than brush. Nearing the top we encountered a ladybug phenomenon. Every boulder, rock, bare scraggly branch was coated with a layer of ladybugs as if dipped like an ice cream cone. I had nothing to grab onto to help maneuver myself to the very top to sign my name on the paper inside the small metal box to claim my success to the top. I know my boots stepped on and killed ladybugs. There must have been millions of them. A ladybug migration.

    Just a memory prompted by your poem.


    • Janet, it sounds like you should write a poem! Lovely imagery there. And, yes, our house has looked like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock with the crust of bugs on the south wall.

  5. Hey, Mel, here is that poem on the ladybug experience that I mentioned to you. It was published in Willows Wept Review when Molly Gaudry was editing in 2008.

    A Plague of Ladybugs

    Certainly not Biblical in its proportions,
    no sharply angled legs, no alien
    faces extruding grasshopper spit,
    only a fraction the size,

    almost cute, but for the feeling
    of six legs on the back of your neck,
    in your hair at night, the sense
    of constant motion at the edge of sight,

    and I am no Charlton Heston
    promising milk and honey,
    but eighty ladybugs
    sucked up in one day

    in the vacuum’s crevice attachment
    and forty or more every day for weeks
    is enough to give anyone the creeps,
    make them long for an exodus of their own.

    • Love it, Scott! It is so true that I would like to take a three week vacation during that time, but who would guard the walls? Love the line, “almost cute, but for the feeling of six legs on the back of your neck.” And even worse if the little creeps take a bite out of you. Vile, those creatures! Thanks for sharing your poem AND for including mine in this marvelous collection.

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