Rita Dove

Definition in the Face of Unnamed Fury

That dragonfly, bloated, pinned
to the wall, its gossamer wings in tatters
(yellow silk, actually, faded in rivulets) —
what is it? A pendulum
with time on its hands, a frozen
teardrop, a winter melon 
with a white, sweet flesh?

Go on — ask the canary.
Ask that sun-bleached delicacy
in its house of sticks
and it will answer Pelican’s bill.
What else did you expect?

“How long has it been…?”
Too long. Each note slips
into querulous rebuke, fingerpads
scored with pain, shallow ditches
to rut in like a runaway slave
with a barking heart. Days afterwards
blisters to hide from the children.
Hanging by a thread. Some day,
he threatens, I’ll just
let go.