The fly blew in on a gust from the garage.
Closed door, so no choice but to stay and alight
on countertops, sticky drips. Outside, always
an escape, but in here they chase her
with rolled-up newspapers, bicker over
how to swat. (“From behind.” “No! Above!)
For an evening she’s plump, triumphant,
and all night, while they sleep off the chase,
Miss Butter-Legs, Queen of the Popcorn Bowl.
But in the morning, when they don’t stop,
when she knows they won’t stop,
she lands on a mirror and says to herself,
“Well, Miss Soon-to-Be-Front-Page-News,
time to decide where your last landing will be.”
She weighs her options. She could shock
against the bright tang of apple skin,
leave her redblack guts on the curtain.
In the end, she chooses the quicksand effect:
The newspaper arm comes down
while she rests on the last uneaten pancake,
syrup deliciously climbing her legs,
and she plays dead, keeps playing dead.
Today, an ant on the counter. Someone told me
that when you draw a circle in pen around an ant, it will stay inside,
trapped by its lost scent trail, the sweet reek of ink.
A pinch of sugar was all it took to lure it to paper, my blue pen
swift to fence it in. I drew a smaller circle inside, then smaller, smaller
until the ant stood, legs and antennae and mandibles wavering.
We can point and laugh all we want. We only have until the ink dries.
I never saw it cross the lines or leave the paper, but it’s in my kitchen,
maybe gnawing on a toast crumb in the silverware drawer,
wondering about the woman who turned her back
long enough to miss its escape, whether she lives her whole life
masking wickedness with wonder.
Amy McInnis’s first book of poems, Cut River, was published in 2007 by Logan House Press. She is a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and her poems have been published in Cimarron Review, CutBank, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. She teaches writing at Grand Valley State University and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.