Thursday, November 27, 2008

John Steffler

The Green Insect

John Steffler

I had a green insect, a kind that had never before been
----- seen,
descendant of an ancient nation, regal, rigid in ritual.

It would sun itself on my windowsill, stretching its legs
one by one, its hinged joints, its swivel joints, its
----- claws, unfolding and folding its Swiss army knife implements.
It was ready for a landing on the moon.

Around my page it marched itself like a colour guard.
It halted, and its segments fell into place, jolting all
------ down the line.

It uncased its wings which glistened the way sometimes very
------ old things glisten: tortoiseshell fans, black veils,
------ lantern glass.

It was a plant with a will, an independent plant, an early
------invention wiser than what we've arrived at now.
It was a brain coiled in amulets for whom nature is all

People gawked, and a woman pointed a camera, and I
-------hesitated, but -- I did -- I held the insect up by its
-------long back legs like a badge, like my accomplishment,
and the air flashed, and the insect twisted and fought,
-------breaking its legs in my fingertips, and hung

lunging, fettered with stems of grass,

and I laid it gently down on a clean page,
but it wanted no convalescence,

it ripped up reality, it flung away time and space,

I couldn't believe the strength it had,

it unwound its history, ran out its spring in kicks and
------ rage, denied itself, denied me and my ownership,
------ fizzed, shrank, took off in wave after wave of murder,
------ and left nothing but this page faintly stained with
------ green.

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