One August bagworms lit my father’s evergreens like Christmas lights. Thousands of gold cocoons. Simple materials, needles and something like spit to hold them together. He told me to get outside and pick them off the bushes. Looking back, I see myself standing there, hesitant, a tin pan dangling in my hand. What was I thinking? The nuns at school were always reminding us of the pains of hell: the fire, the darkness, the worms that ate but did not consume the sinner. Or maybe I was thinking about my aunt in her beautiful cherry box, cushioned by velvet on all sides. The worms would be halfway through the wood by now. In less than a year there’d be nothing but bones. When my father came out to cut the grass, he yelled at me, I remember that, above the roar of the mower, so I started in, the heat like a fur coat turned inside out, the sweet smell of clipped grass, the choking smoke. The pods were sticky, prickly. As I worked I saw the inchlings crawling from their sleeping bags like kids waking at camp. When the pan was full, he took it and told me to come with him out back to the trash pit where we burned the newspaper. I loved watching each sheet as it blackened, curled, and revealed the unburnt page underneath just before it caught. But not this time, when he poured my little captives onto the charred ground, shook gas onto them — I thought of the priest at High Mass sprinkling us with holy water — and lit them like charcoal. Oh, they curled too in the sudden heat, blood-smoke rising sideways in the pit. What must he have thought, seeing me staring, fists clenched, the moisture boiling from my cheeks and eyes, trying to read that fiery script?