Thursday, September 19, 2019

FLIES, A War of Attrition

Tempted by a door propped open
they enter – a half dozen of them.

I ignore them. It's autumn. They'll soon die.

They fan out around the house, 
sunbathe on my window panes, 
hover in the kitchen, my office.

But when they dive at my food
I swing whatever comes to hand:
the New Yorker, the utilities bill
I know that solid paper just creates
a wind to warn the fly away.
I don't believe in taking life.

The flies multiply. On day four, 
my tolerance snaps
I grasp my seldom-used fly swatter.
I'm awkward, create motion but no death.
Slowly my form returns:
teeth clenched, I stalk them
I whack flies on the window
flies on the counter
flies in flight flies anywhere
but being a pacifist
I notice what I do.

Days pass, I sweep bodies by the score 
into my dust pan but the number 
of flies seems constant
as if the dead reproduce themselves

Finally they're all dead but one. 
He hangs diligently in my office
walking the slant window of my computer
evading all attempts to kill him

He seems drawn by light to my screen
by warmth to my hand where he loves to sit
rubbing his fore legs together.
Shaking my hand fails to dislodge him
he clings like a sailor on a ship
until my hurricane breath blows him away 

Then one day he lands 
on my yellow file cabinet
in such a groggy state
that when I hit him with a poem
I don't know who is more amazed
that he dies: he or me.

I struggle 
to feel triumphant
but am unable to grasp
that I miss him.

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