by Richard Schiffman
Of all the gadgets
in my grandparents’ cottage
by the sea, it is the fly swatter
that I remember best,
dangling on its rusty nail,
a vinyl honeycomb, DayGlo red,
though a housefly’s blood is green.
The porch was screened.
against these buzzing buggers
that dashed in uninvited
whenever doors were swung,
or shutters left unshuttered.
The whine, that droning whine
was the music of my stripling summers,
though vile to mother’s ears,
who held that germs adhered
to bristling legs and nacreous underbellies
scummed with offal, barf and mud.
Which naturally won my boyish love
for these unprissy bugs–
so much like me– the little bugger.
And even now—
inspector of unclean things,
consorter with vermin emeritus–
I do not own a fly swatter, never will.
So, old pals, relax and take your ease
You’ve nothing to fear from the likes of me.
They’re still skating around the rink
under sprays of rust colored buds,
forsythia opening their floral parachutes,
willows sporting beehive hairdos.
Soon the delicate snowdrops will be gone,
wilted, the baby-faced crocus.
And this golden mist
of leaflets will be merely green,
and the winter-trampled-stubble
will be a lawn. And we will lie
on the lawn forgetting
this day, when you knelt
by the pile of newly pruned,
but still budding branches,
and wrapped them in your arms,
like orphans after a battle,
then vased them saving
what was beyond saving
to dream a few more days
of the summer that would come
for all but them.