My six-year-old grandson drew this fine young scorpion. I made up a bedtime story to go with it…
Roachie the fat-tailed scorpion felt sure he was ugly. The other insects stayed away from him during recess. Mysia, the sparkling green Christmas beetle who sat next to Roachie on the first day of class, now sat way near the front with the orange ladybugs.
The desk beside Roachie’s desk was empty. No one wanted to sit beside a scorpion.
One morning in class, the teacher, Miss. Grissel, read a long poem that said, “beauty is truth.” Roachie sat and listened to the whole weird thing, wishing he could hold still in his chair like he was supposed to, but after a while it was just impossible…
Ode on a Grecian Urn
BY JOHN KEATS
Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
“If beauty is truth,” Roachie thought, “does that mean I’m a lie?”
Just then a fierce Gila Monster appeared on the playground, licking the air with her bright pink tongue. She caught the scent of the mostly-insect classroom and waddled across the hot sand, accidentally crushing the swing set with her enormous white belly.
Miss. Grissel passed out in fright and lay on the floor.
The insect children rushed into the supply closet and shut the door.
Roachie stayed in his seat. He didn’t know why, but he wasn’t afraid at all.
“It’s just a lizard,” he said to himself.
The Gila Monster came closer and looked into the classroom with her huge dark eye filling the window.
Roachie felt silly and climbed out of his chair, stood on his desktop in front of the big lizard and did the scorpion dance. He waved his arms high, snapping his claws and letting his ugly tail arch and quiver the way his mom said never to do.
The Gila Monster’s big eye opened wide in surprise. She jerked her huge head away from the window with lightning speed and took off running across the sand as fast as any plump lizard could ever go.
There was a noise from the supply closet. Roachie turned as the door opened and all the beautiful insect children came piling out cheering his name and calling him, “Roachie the Brave.”
He grinned and took a silly bow, then turned back to the window and laughed. “Come back,” he said to the Gila Monster who was now far, far away. “I need a hug.”
Morrill Talmage Moorehead