Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Merit Badges

Sewing badges
on my daughter's Girl Scout vest
(a kitten for "Making Friends,"
a giraffe for "My Best

Self"), I remember my worst
day in the uniform;
a silly field trip fuss
that loosed a swarm

of baby queen bees
testing the strength of their stings
on a humbler heart of the hive.
The poor thing

screamed and fought and cried
till her hair ripped loose from her braid
and her arms and face were streaked red
with scratches and marks made

by small, but hardened hands -
one of them mine.
Not my best self.
Not that time.

For Kerry's Flashback prompt at Real Toads


Kerry O'Connor said...

Nothing says that flashbacks have to be all warm and fuzzy. I can relate to the one you have portrayed here (and had a few nasty little girl flashbacks of my own).

Patricia A. McGoldrick said...

Childhood has so many moments that leave indelible marks in our memories. Sure captured the essence in this one!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh this is so vivid and well told. Love it!

Mark Kerstetter said...

Strong and disturbing imagery, a reminder that there's always another reality behind commemorative facades.

hedgewitch said...

Little girls could make Lord of The Flies look like a comedy--I have the scars to prove it--the analogy of the hive, of all the fledgeling females fighting, is spot on--vivid and disturbing, and very well-written.

Sylvia K said...

Ah, I agree with hedgewitch, I have some of those same kinds of scars!! Vivid this is!!

Gail said...

I remember sewing my badges.

I guess we learn many lessons as a scout.

Sam Edge said...

I was glad to see mine wasn't the only dark theme. This is rich and chilling.

Anonymous said...

Oh my. This certainly paints a scary vivid picture.

Fireblossom said...

No, not your finest day, for sure. I bet she remembers that day, too. But sometimes it is the days we aren't proud of that make us determined to do better.

What I like best about this poem is its non haiku-ness. ;-)

Marian said...

oh, gosh. your metaphor is so sublime, i thought we were talking bees till i read it again. this is so strong.

Susie Clevenger said...

Not all is sweet in flashbacks...many of mine bring more tears than smiles...I feel for the little girl who was the target of queen bees and the woman who regrets the stinging

Jim said...

Hey Mom Z ~~ We need writings like this. Kids have a hard time growing up. Things I remember happened in corn fields, alongside creeks, and in the groves. Or at school, THE WORST.

I hope your daughter fares better.
You may never know, did your mom?

Anonymous said...

I always found scouting tragicomical -- so much virtue to bear when I was just a fat idiot kid wishing I was someone else. The lead stanze has such a motherly pride to it, which turns inside out to reveal the bitch daughter child who never did quite get the motto straight. What's a mom to do, but hope the next child gets it better? Or maybe the true instruction lies in knowing there's a merit badge for bees that can never be sewed fast. Great stuff, Zee.

cosmos cami said...

I always disliked "little boys" because of that Lord of the Flies behavior but it doesn't escape the gentler sex. This conjures memories about how quickly friends/playmates can turn.
A very well written piece.

Anonymous said...

Agh-- you weave the memory so naturally. k.

Lorraine Renaud said...

everything you write is so bloody magnificent, I'm just happy I had a boy oh Mama Zen, you rock

Susan said...

Yikes. I remember this from the other side. Not that I wasn't also a bully and a downer at times. This poem rocks the still waters of kids thinking parents know nothing.

Helen said...

Lost in memories as I read your poetry this morning ... a few painful reminders of my own childhood ~ among them, switch marks on my legs. (Though I don't recall what prompted them.)

Grandmother (Mary) said...

I had some of those moments myself but thought myself an avenging angel. Wonder what the other kid thought?

Anonymous said...

wow, MZ. chilling, perfect ~

Hannah said...

Wow...MZ you nailed this...perfect. :)