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Poetry

for Mary Oliver

In the evening I killed a dozen flies
against the glass of the window
not caring for the noise they made
or to see them flecking the table
where we had eaten

They were trying to escape
had scrawled their curlicues
all afternoon

and could not have understood
the cruelty of glass
who’d learned for so long
how uncomplicated it should be
to fly towards the light

and that night a scorpion
came into the bed and stung me
under the sheets and I woke
in a terror of thrown blankets
and my wife rolling out
clutching the baby to herself

and when I found it
hidden in a seam of the mattress
to prove something

I scooped it into a water glass
and walked out under the moon
and shook it out in the garden
and came back to bed

and as I fell asleep
a pair of moths who had seen
everything

moved in the darkness
and whispered to each other
like a pair of dry hands

does he not cause the rain
to fall upon the just and unjust
what he has made crooked
who can make straight?


The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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