Carl Wycoff CC
My fucks are first-generation monarch butterflies flying above an explosion of giant ranunculus flowers.
Gliding on west breezes from the sea, they traverse the rainbowed hillside looking for needful things - a riot of orange, purple, and red blooms eagerly awaiting winged visitors.
My hundreds of fucks flit up, down, and ever forward in this bright morning. They become a field of unrehearsed dancers, never moving in tandem except in purpose. Each fuck alights on a blossom, partakes of its hidden pool of nectar inside, and departs again refreshed. This is what fulfillment feels like.
But my kaleidoscope of fucks, despite its size, can't visit every one of 70 million flowers. Some must withstand the sun alone, like worthy causes without a voice loud enough to be heard in the noise. The flowers will outlive the butterflies, no matter how hard they try.
Now my fucks are honey bees.
Fifty of them buzz over the awakening spring lawns of Midwest suburbia, my dutiful little fucks, tasting and drinking, pollenating and producing. Doing what needs to be done for just a few drops of sweet nectar to spread like progress in the hive.
Their wings beat 200 times a second in the midday air, yet they travel at most 15 miles an hour between blooms. In a good life, one bee can produce less than a sip of honey. It’s so much effort for so little gain. Why do my fucks keep trying? What drives them to continue working despite making such a small difference?
Because it’s the right thing to do. Because they don’t know what else they were created for.
But my fucks are unaware of the pesticides which drip from the sunny yellow dandelions they minister to. Each effort is slowly sickening them. They don’t know that sometimes what you tend can kill you.
Now my fucks are a charm of hummingbirds - a dozen of them struggling to travel in an afternoon darkened by a Southern hurricane.
The day feels as angry as it is bleak. There's no time to give relief to the fuchsia phlox or coral honeysuckle drooping to the ground, overburdened with nectar, beginning to rot in its own misfortune. There’s no chance to move pollen from fat stamen to unfamiliar pistil to grow new fruit. These hummingbirds don't have the capacity to care about all the things that need care in the wide and violent world.
Their delicate bodies are stabbed by raindrops and their muscles ache from fighting 110-mile-an-hour headwinds. My fucks are hungry.
They are weary. They are thinking of giving up instead of going home. Who would even notice if they disappeared?
Now my fucks are five mosquitoes drifting in the pink twilight.
They search the big, empty air for a man or a dog or any warm, living thing on which they can land, eat, rest. But nothing holds still long enough. Like a once-dire issue that no longer matters, they are swatted and slapped at every attempt. They have become a nuisance to be snuffed out.
My fucks are thin and desperate for sustenance. They feel a faint pull to mate, to produce more fucks that will live on, but they can't summon the energy. It is effort enough to merely exist.
Now my fucks are one lonely moth beating at a bare lightbulb, trying to reach the white moon but settling for disappointment.
Its dusty wings have been flapping uselessly since midnight, its soft body launching at the hot glass again and again like a problem that can't be solved.
Each journey of a few feet feels like a thousand miles, feels like this time it will end differently. If it could only try harder. If it could only effect more change.
One final sizzle, and my fuck falls dead on the porch floor.
All my fucks are gone.
Megan Hanlon is a podcast producer who sometimes writes. Her work has appeared in Write or Die Magazine, Variant Literature, Gordon Square Review, MUTHA Magazine, and other publications as well as the anthologies The Order of Us, The History of Us and The Future of Us. Her blog, Sugar Pig, is known for relentlessly honest essays that are equal parts tragedy and comedy.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.