The Ladybug by Audrey Senior After Nikki Giovanni

her skin was orangish-brown
not red like I expected
I was sorry

I saw her crawl across the sheets
the shroud
and grabbed her between my monstrous fingers
capturing her in my grasp
inescapable
drowning
drowning in the creases that make me who I am
who I expect myself to be
I was not sorry

I had the audacity to make her stand on the oily finger tip
while I photographed her with no reasoning
forcing her to stand still
full aware
the torture of being frozen and alone
I was not sorry

then I let her run, run, ran as fast as she could
tiny feet scampering away
as far away as she could get
from her predator
from her abuser
I was not sorry

I reached to grab her again
but when she extended her brown wings to escape
I feared—I flinched
without thinking
pushing my oily fingers together
now she was mine forever
but was no longer of value
I was sorry.

I am sorry I did not understand you
it was not my place to make you mine
I do not think I am allowed to kill something because I am frightened
she was harmless; she was pure; I was the aggressor
I am sorry

I am so sorry
that you were not red like I imagined