Insect Collection


Poets represent their ideas in different ways. One of the common waysis the use of metaphors and imagery through which they can tell theiraccount while refereeing to an indirect object. This is seen inMirikitani’s poem, . In the poem, hepresents the experience of an insect being used in a biologyexperiment and the way it suffers in the hands of its tormentor. Theindividual carrying out the experiment does not seem to care aboutthe agony he is causing the insect, and he is only interested inachieving his final result. The poem may also represent theexperience of a child suffering in the hands of an abusive adult whodoes not care about the pain that the child goes through. Mirikitaniuse form and style to drive his theme home.

The poet uses the various expressions to present the theme of painand helplessness that the victim undergoes. The conditions in thevictim’s surrounding are not fit for his support his survival. Heis moved from bad to further deteriorated conditions. Unfortunately,the victim cannot is not in a position to utter a word in protests ofthis kind of treatment. The victim eulogizes, “He locked me in avault of shame, dark closets and barns” (Line10 &amp11). Apartfrom this psychological trauma, the victim also experiences physicalpain. The tormentor skins, pierces him and cuts him with a bluntblade. “He peeled back my skin…pierced me with his blunt blade,slowly pulled off my wings” (Line26 &amp27). The expressionindicates what goes n in a biology experiment, and it also presentsthe physical abuse that a child sufferers under the hands of anabusive caregiver. He suffers a painful death and writhes in pain inthe process without the dominant having any slightest show of mercy.He laments, “Without the swift mercy of insecticide” (Line 34).

There is a thin line between the experiences of the insect and whatthe person’s carrying out the experiment personal account. The poetshifts the form of the piece from the laboratory to home and thenback to insect’s experience. The style helps us to now that thethere is more than what is going on the experiment. At some point,the persona changes from being the insect to the student. She says,“He locked me in an airless vault of shame and muffled bedrooms”(Line10 &amp 13). This indicates the words of a human being havingthe same experience as the insect.

The poet metaphorically uses the insect to represent what the victimundergoes. The student removes the insect wings slowly leaving itbare before piercing its skin. The way the students removes the wingsslowly may represent the way that the “He” removes her clothesbefore mishandling and molesting her. The forced silence that theinsect is subjected is to by the student in the jar with cyanidefumes stills it, and it cannot react. In the same way, the studentreceives threats that if she gives a word, “You will kill ourmother” (Line 18). She is as helpless as the insect. The poet alsouses a simile to bring out the feeling of the victim. The victimsays, “My body as hollow as the mute row of corpses” (Line 36 &amp39). The victim equates herself to the dead insects pinned to theparaffin.

The poem gives the accounts of an insect and the student in anintegrated way. They suffer the same experience, and they share asimilar disadvantage of being helpless. It presents the accounts fromthe victims and the abuser’s point of view. While the perpetratoris dominant, the victim suffers in silence due to her helplessness.


Himura, Tamiko.&quotJANICE MIRIKITANI (1941-).&quot Asian-American Poets: ABio-bibliographical Critical Sourcebook (2002): 233.