Dragonflies, wives’ tales, and worse

I bought some wallpaper the other day. Just four yards of it.  It has enormous dragonflies on it–each one is 2 feet across, a pen and ink drawing done in exquisite detail.

Don’t ask me why.

When I was young I was told that dragonflies sewed your mouth shut.  I can clearly remember knowing that and believing it as a child. Yet when I ask other people, no one else had ever heard of such a thing.  Is it a ethnic thing that came from my parents? Was it just an off-the-cuff remark that some joking adult told me and which I always believed?  I don’t know.

I mentioned it to a woman I worked with once. She had never heard of their sewing mouths shut, but she told me a much, more horrific tale about her and dragonflies.

She was a little girl around seven or eight and there was a copse of trees behind the house where she lived, ringed by a swatch of tall, wild grass.

One day when she was playing in or walking through the high grasses, three slightly older boys molested her.  They dragged her to a clearing in the woods and the weapon they used was a dragonfly.  They pinned down her arms and legs and waved the dragonfly in front of her face while they groped her and de-pants her. For her, a dragonfly meant much more than a silly wives’ tale about sewing children’s mouth shut.

What more can one say?

And where are those boys? What have they become? Do the remember that hell they visited on that little girl?

I have outgrown my fear of dragonflies–in fact, now I find them beautiful and graceful.  But I am sure that that young girl, now a woman in her 60s, never has.