My grandmothers disagree about dragonflies.
Grandma – on my dad’s side – says that dragonflies are the work of the devil. She tells me that if they fly above my head they are trying to weigh my soul, and if I fall asleep by a river, they’ll sew my eyes shut. They follow snakes and stitch them back together if they are injured, she says. She tells me to keep out of their way.
Gran – on my mum’s side – thinks dragonflies are beautiful creatures. They are honoured in Japan, she tells me. Warriors adorned their armour with katsumushi, which means, she thinks, invincible insect. She tells me that for the Navajo, dragonflies are a symbol of pure water. She tells me not to listen to tales of horses possessed by the devil.
I lie on the riverbank and watch them dance in the sunlight, their wings like spun cobwebs, their bodies like shards of coloured glass. I’d like to agree with gran – on my mum’s side – but I keep my eyes open just in case.
Inspired by Sarahbdavies’ answer to the question: if you were an insect, what would you be and why?, May 14th, 1.04pm, and the wealth of dragonfly myths from across the globe.