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~~a glosa~~

Alive, we are like a sleek black water beetle
skating across still water in any direction
we choose, and soon to be swallowed
suddenly from beneath.

—“Night”, Robert Bly


Have you lost count of your senses?
Someone who loves you long ago made certain
you had five on each hand
and five, wiggling, on each prehensile
pinkening foot. Symbolic and prime
you burst from cramped and pensive foetal
with a joyful cry—I am arrived!
And not just to mark time or fulfill
biology. You and I intended joy, full
alive, we are like a sleek black water beetle.

Surface creature, you can smell the deep
and dip your skinny feet wherever taste
and fancies send you, yet a surfeit
skim, some oily practicality, pollutes,
lopping like a fisher’s scaling knife
permitted from forbidden. Vivisection
of the vastness of the sparkling neural
universe within has become the gauge
by which we sniff another’s misattention,
skating across still water in any direction,

frantic, fearing too much clamour and
the probability that all accelerates
toward more of better, more of worse. Appetites
of yesterday, I eschew, convinced through
dimming, wrongly disavowed sixth sense that
someone’s making off with mine & ours. Hollowed
by the scummy years of digging in & digging up,
asphyxiating from de-oxygenated history,
desire, healthy-gilled, moves on. Hallowed
we choose, and soon to be swallowed

this moment and the next, we entertain
dread for sake of conversation. Final breath
the switch that flips dusk to dawn, you and I
enter, one by one, the ark, the mothership.
We all must board that skiff eventually.
Why should I care if the pH of your belief
is pond sludge to my frisky brine? Some
silver, shiny, passing school that’s learned
to count past five will snatch both joy & grief
suddenly from beneath.


© Elaine Stirling, 2016

Dytiscadae: predaceous water beetles
The gorgeous image of a pond surface comes
from http://www.miriadna.com.