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  • Dragonfly and Wasp, and: Heading There, and: Listening, and: Scorpion
  • Jennifer Grotz (bio)

I killed the wispy-winged things swarming all over my pillow. But I let you be, dragonfly, you’re just neurotic, cautiously installed by the bedside lamp. I admire your gauzy black-rimmed wings, expressive antenna and tiny attentive eyes. But with the lights off, you hurl yourself about the room as if to crunch into a ball so you can throw yourself away.

Involuntary as the twitch my lover makes in sleep, releasing all the day’s unused adrenaline. Still it upsets me to hear you. I wish my fear was as bumbling and unstinging as yours.

Something falls and falls inside me, a glass jar breaks and spills. And my fear is a depressed mother still in her nightgown who doesn’t look down to see what crashed. My fear: it won’t even answer the phone. “My” because I own it, the way one possesses a ghost. Or a mother. And because it was never not there. Last night I knew it was true, honest, and the worst feeling imaginable.

Today it doesn’t seem false, my despair, only premature. The sun bakes the monastery stones and loves the garden, loves the sunflowers ten feet tall, invites the wasps back out. Slicing the air, they come in one after another through the window, then exit again, except for the one that lingers, stirring something ominous into the afternoon. Entering the wardrobe, not coming back out. [End Page 18]

Heading There

I will call desert this castle that you were, wasp, this loneliness. I will say sun to name the fear, and when night falls I will call what still haunts this landscape bat.

Sky will be the word for having known all along. It will still be inhabited by flies, birds, wasps, and bats. You dreaded the sky, how it hung over death, but dying, that’s the country you loved. I am headed there

but I am taking the sorriest roads. At dusk bats fly out of the cave and don’t come back. I am destroying your face, your hands, the smell of your sweat. I am your enemy.

I will love you so much I erase you, I will have in my hand this stinger that eviscerated the wasp. [End Page 19]


Water turns everything into a jewel then puts a metal taste in the mouth slowly replaced by dust. Which is why standing in the rainy street you feel much richer than you are. Or, aware that everything will dry, much poorer.

You feel that way anyway in New York, and a little lost, but let’s be honest, that’s what you want, to hide, and like an owl, you’ve retreated not to high branches but an anonymous skyrise. And like everyone else who didn’t flee,

you’re up late waiting for the hurricane. It’s that usual hiss of nothing, of stillness, it’s the sound listening makes, and it slowly generates the awareness of wind lashing outside, something like a fistfight between rain and leaf, rain winning, leaves, twigs, whole branches chipped away and blown down the street.

Seen from the seventh floor, looking down, full shiny garbage bags piled symmetrically become a cluster of grapes, trembling, until one gets plucked by the wind. How straight the buildings stand, and how elastic the trees, how mesmerizing to watch how completely they will yield.

And the city streets are oddly empty except for the monotonous bounce of a jogger making his visual tick-tock towards the park, or the dog-walker’s vector from here to there frustrated by his little lingering inspector.

When the raindrops start wholeheartedly, stately at first as punctuation, how relieving it is, now that you are listening this closely, now that you can hear the rain-words unraveling an epic discourse, that seems, at the same time it calls you back to the window, to insist you will be exhausted if not asleep by the end. [End Page 20]


When it’s warm, you’ll see one every day, Isabelle warns newcomers to the monastery. And so I check...


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pp. 18-21
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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