Significance

It’s hot here, in the nineties. I haven’t yet turned on the air conditioning, but the window in my office is shut because there’s a wasp trapped between the screen and glass. At least, I think that’s where it is. It could be between the upturned blinds and screen, but I won’t check. I don’t even know if it is a wasp. I only know it buzzes, furiously at times, then not at all.

It’s not a fly. That’s a buzz I know well—lower in pitch than the mosquito hum that threatens in the dark during lapses in sleep. Swatting flies when they land takes luck and timing. They always seem to know when I’m creeping up on them, swatter in hand, no matter how quiet I am, and zoom off, only to light again when the swatter is out of reach.

I blame our bare wood floor. It creaks. There are two loose boards by my side of the bed, and two more at the foot of it. I can mostly avoid them, but in battle with flies, not so much.

Wings have haunted me all summer. When the season began, it was a large fly that followed me from our first floor to the second—living room to bathroom to bed, and landed first on the small lamp by which I read and do crosswords until my eyelids droop, then on my pillow. Unusual for me, I tried to capture it. Its iridescent fly eyes stared at me, as if to say, “Haven’t we met?” But I wasn’t successful, and by three a.m., half drunk with frustrated exhaustion, reached for the swatter. I think, by that time, it was resigned to its fate. Either that, or I caught it napping.

Two days later, it was a moth, the largest I’ve seen in our home. Again, it followed me from the first floor to the second—living room to bathroom to bed, and lit on my pillow. Moths are a good deal slower than flies, and easy to catch with a plastic cup, stiff sheet of paper, and patience. This one was quickly trapped and dispatched into the night air.

The three silly cicadas that found their way inside over the next week via an open window were similarly shown the way out. That’s three more than past years. And then, a lull….

No buzzing. No flying creatures following me from floor to floor, room to room. Peace.

Until last week, when I heard that intermittent buzz to my right—from an unseen corner.

And, I noticed, in the days following, swallowtails—lovely, dark, graceful—swooping almost close enough to touch when I’m on our patio. I’m sure it’s the season for them, but I’ve never seen so many, never had them approach with such purpose.

I could write it off. I could be poetic. But honestly? I’d rather wonder what it means.

Stay safe. Stay well.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Things Immaterial

I found a moth on my kitchen window,
climbing up the screen.
It was a large moth, close to an inch, I think—
I didn’t measure,
and it seemed confused
by endless mesh
beneath its legs, its feet—
fragile, if moths have them,
I didn’t check—
and morning’s heat,
the lack of exits,
how it became so impossibly trapped.

At another time,
I might have grabbed a weighty book—
Gray’s Anatomy, perhaps—
and disregarding frantic flaps,
each frenzied dodge,
would have taken aim
in memory of garments lost—
cashmere sweaters, silk shirts—
to their nestling appetites,
hatching broods.
Acrylic doesn’t suit their tastes.

But on this morning,
without a care for material salvation—
the artifice of dress, donned image—
I grabbed a glass instead,
possessed by instincts to
free, protect.

Its wings fluttered hard
against its new transparent jail—
momentary, but how could it know?—
then spread wide upon release.

On any other day, I would have crushed it,
for reasons that seemed right.

But not today…not today.

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