Harriet by Robert Lowell
A repeating fly, blueback, thumbthick–so gross,
it seems apocalyptic in our house–
whams back and forth across the nursery bed
manned by a madhouse of stuffed animals,
not one a fighter. It is like a plane
dusting apple orchards or Arabs on the screen–
one of the mighty… one of the helpless. It
bumbles and bumps its brow on this and that,
making a short, unhealthy life the shorter.
I kill it, and another instant’s added
to the horrifying mortmain of
ephemera: keys, drift, sea-urchin shells,
you packrat off with joy… a dead fly swept
under the carpet, wrinkling to fulfillment.
This poem was selected by Russell J. (Readers’ Services)