Elizabeth Oxley


That’s what I name the baby fly 
stuck inside our hotel room: twelfth floor, 
Times Square, New York City buzz. 
A trip with my thirteen-year-old daughter. 

She’s all spitfire and I-hate-you, 
perfect teenage storm. In mothering hell, 
I gaze up from my bed and spot Sherman— 
tiny teacup fly. For three days, I watch him

climb dreary walls, worried a housekeeper 
might martyr him. At night, after museums, 
we walk to the triangle park, food trucks 
jam-packed, fish tacos beneath fairy lights. 

Silent, my daughter eats her crepe. I pray 
sugar will sweeten her. Snagging a cup, 
I take it back to the room—wait, lunge, 
miss. At last, I clap it over Sherman 

and use a napkin to seal him in. My daughter 
rolls her eyes. She rides down with me, though, 
taking the elevator to the marble lobby,
exiting between buildings singed orange 

with summer sun: mounds of garbage, 
sidewalk crowds—jackhammers, hipsters, 
intoxicating urban thrum. You haven’t achieved 
anything in your life, my ex-husband once said 

to hurt me. With a falconer’s gesture, 
I raise my cup. Sherman spirals up, 
and when my daughter laughs, setting free
the doves of her teeth, I know what I’ve done.