The Woodlouse and the Sea

The woodlouse lived under a log, with her isopod family
But she had a dream she’d harboured since birth:
She longed to visit the sea

To see the big waves rolling, smell the salt and brine on the air
to move through the sand in a faraway land
How she longed to visit there

The pull to the coast was insistent, it would not leave her be
Though her composting duties were plenty
Log-life couldn’t quell the call of the sea

When she could resist no longer, she bid goodbye to her home
As she followed the tow of the current
To the beaches she longed to comb

For years she wandered the coastline, drenched in scenery
Met her cousins; the crab and the lobster
Soaked in the awe of the sand and sea

Though she revelled in her wanders, she began to feel alone
A tug in her gut that was slow and persistent
Called her back to the log that was home

Her thirst for the sea satiated, she said goodbye to sand and sea 
Followed the scent of the petrichor,
as it led her to where she should be

To the log with the woodlice who loved her
A place she would never be alone
In the folds of her isopod family, she was finally at home.

Woodlice gathering on a tree in New England courtesy of Istock.

I used to play with woodlice as a child (we weren’t allowed a pet, so we found them where we could).  Something in me (that inner knowing) has always thought of woodlice as harmless and friendly. Imagine my delight when research for this post confirmed what I’ve always known: woodlice don’t bite or sting, they don’t carry any diseases and (prepare to have your mind blown) they’re not even insects at all, they’re crustaceans!

What wonderful crustaceans they are too.  They’re nature’s great recyclers, composting the earth and maintaining soil health.  Researchers have even found they have personalities, with some bold and some shy.  They get lonely too, living longer in groups than on their own. The female woodlice have marsupial pouches for their young and care for them for months after they’re born.

My son has carried on my woodlice loving legacy and is the great woodlouse rescuer in our house: if he sees one in need, he scoops it up, carries it outside and deposits it in the nearest vegetation. As cute as they are they don’t like it inside, unless you have damp in your home, then they thrive. So, if you see a lot of them (I’m talking to you Mum) best get that damp treated, and maybe thank the woodlice for pointing it out.

What’s the most surprising fact you’ve ever found out about the natural world?

Thanks for joining me for another Sunday rhyme time. I’m low on posts lately because I’m spending time editing some of my poems for a poetry pamphlet competition. I’m new to editing and it doesn’t come easily to me! The original verses seem so etched in my brain that even when I try to change a line or word, I still read the poem in its original form. But it’s all a work in progress, and I’m trusting I’ll find my editing flow as time goes on.

5 thoughts on “The Woodlouse and the Sea

  1. I like the list of common names for these creatures, listed in wikipedia. When we moved out from London, the man we bought our house from and who remained our neighbour, called them “chuggy pigs”. My favourite I think is “monkey peas” because they somehow roll into a ball.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chuggy pigs! 🤣 love it. I’ve never heard them called that or monkey peas, but somehow they seem to have found endearing nicknames to go with their endearing nature which pleases me very much, thank you 😊


  2. Thank you for helping me see these little creatures in a more positive light. I’m with your mum on being plagued by them at home…yes, it’s a damp,old house. So, instead of hoovering them up I will endeavour to put them outside where they belong. Your lovely poem and information has made me feel almost loving towards them now. Thank you. Xx

    Liked by 1 person

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