“Ladybug Girls” poem by Charmaine Li


Ladybug Girls

Poem by Charmaine Li

In third grade, when

the bell rings at 12:10, we

dash out––

in our green tunic dresses

of Scottish plaid,

worn blue sweaters,

and untucked shirts.


It’s the first warm

sigh of spring

and the big, big tree

that stands behind

the playground

has arms and fingers that

swoop over us

like a mother.

She begins to bud with

little spots of green.


And smaller than these baby green leaves––

are little red dots—


We girls in our ties and tunics––

are the Crocodile Hunter’s—

––or David Suzuki’s—

brave, wild daughters.

We jump and grapple at branches

and sometimes

they escape our

fingers and

our eagerness,

snapping upwards in a whirl of leaves.


We hunted for ladybugs.

Spiders and crickets and snails—ew,

but ladybugs ladybugs ladybugs!

Collected them in plastic bags

and clear snack containers

with punched holes, stuffed

with leaves and water and dirt.

Aphids for food (we knew a tad of science),

brought them to classroom and home

for teachers and mothers

we yearned to charm or horrify.


Our little bags of dirt.


Later, I learned

that when a ladybug squirts out yellow slime––

it’s scared.
“Ew! It peed on me!”

In third grade,

we wiped the squirts

on faded Scottish plaid

before tucking

our ladybugs

into their new plastic homes.