We didn’t expect to find it, so late in summer, with fall only some wind gusts away. My son caught it, called us over.
We didn’t expect to find a dragonfly hanging from its own death. We didn’t expect to see a dragonfly the moment it was born.
Its head seemed still attached to what it had once been. So slight one could almost imagine them already separate.
It was still attached or else its new head was resting against what once encased its old one. It may have been a thread. It may have been some sticky substance. I like to think it was a goodbye.
At first we weren’t sure it wasn’t dead. My son thought it lifeless as we stared for so long and nothing moved, its body as still as the grass it hung from.
We laughed and thought how funny for us to be sitting here staring at a dead dragonfly for such a very long time.
We laughed, and then it moved. Twitched its head. I could see it. I watched it. Life was coming into it. This brand new being.
I couldn’t move. I wouldn’t move. We were watching a dragonfly be born and I would witness its first flight.
We waited and we watched. There was talk again of perhaps it really was dead and then it would twitch and silence us.
Slowly its wings which were bound together as one began to part. Only slightly so that we weren’t quite sure, but yes, they seemed a bit different than one minute ago.
The wings suddenly opened.
And then more stillness.
My son started to get restless and walked to the other side of the puddle. My daughter stayed with me but her eyes moved to distance cries in the sky.
For me, I would not look away. I had to see this dragonfly be born. I could not bear to think I would miss its embodiment the moment we walked away.
Liquid dripped down its long body. Small round drops the size of a child’s tear fell from its tail to the mud below. It must have been some sort of liquid from the metamorphosis but it looked like a baptism to me.
The kids are tired and the sun is hot. We’ve been waiting and watching and their restlessness is wrapping me up in it. Just as I think we will have to stand and go, it moves. Its head moves from side to side. The whole dragonfly starts to shake and its head lifts and its wings move and I realize this is it, that it is about to take fight and I catch my scream in my throat as it lifts off and flies. We watch it swoop and zag, and then disappear.
Today we went back.
We walked back to the puddle that was our pond before the rains stopped. The exoskeleton was still there, hanging from the blade of grass. I gently tore the blade and walked it back to our car.
We will keep it. It will remind us of the day we watched a dragonfly become.