At Wekiva Springs, I took a loungey swim around the pool, listening to the sounds of a few dozen late afternoon families laughing and teasing and diving the cold water. Most of the talk was in Spanish, so I could block out its meaning and hear it like music, just tone and pitch. Part of the time, I let my head sink far enough under the water that the only sound was from the spring, as loud near the bridge as it was over the boil. Planes were flying overhead, strangely inaudible. Two boys and a girl were taking and posing for photographs. The girl was brassy blond and pretty, and the boys directed her, again and again, to drape her body over objects.
I drew myself, dripping and slow, out of the water and onto the stone-edged bank, mirroring the anhinga. Voices playing behind me, I wrapped my towel around to cover the less attractive bits, and stepped onto the boardwalk.
“Notice how the path leads from the lower, wetter hammock of the spring to the dryer uplands, and how the vegetation changes,” said the sign. Behind it on the ground was a piece of trash, which I picked up.
I walked quietly, to satisfy myself, and maybe to catch some animal crossing the path. The light is slightly fading and the mosquitos are buzzing, so I walk a little faster.
I see a bug the size and shape of a dragonfly. I keep thinking, “ladyfly, lady slipper,” because I know what it is, but I can’t think what it’s called. I stop and watch, and then realize that I can’t see the details. I sit down on the boardwalk and lean over: the bug sits on a leaf and seems to be posing for me, or watching me, or perhaps just waiting for me to leave.
His wings are like slices of night. I can’t see detail in them, they do not reflect light. They are rich and plush, without having any apparent thickness. He lowers them gently, like bowing to the queen, but then raises them — snap! — like a battlefield salute. Up, they sweep back, in a prayer position. Down, they lay flat, functional.
His body is an irridescent green I associate with unnatural DayGlo colors. Every color of green around him is forest green, grass green, emerald green, ochre, moss, and mist, but the bug is neon all up and down, except his eyes. As I lean closer, I see that the color is painted on the leading edge of his wings, too.
I wanted a video of him, his beauty, his unearthliness, his attentive flight pattern in a circle just within my view. I wanted to keep him forever, to convey his message of form and efficiency to everyone, but all I had with me was my mind and all I took away was memory.