Wednesday – Flies
The midges of Ben More
Oh the nastiest of midges are the midges of Ben More.
They lurk on the summit waiting for a bite,
and when the weather’s hot and the breeze is barely light,
they feast on weary climbers by the score.
Now the views you get from climbing are the just and fair reward
for hauling your carcass up the endless height,
but for every golden eagle, and every gorgeous sight,
a cloud of midges tries to get on board.
My back is to the mountain now, and the shimmering slopes of scree.
A cool and soothing drink is on my mind.
But my face is red and lumpy: though I left the midge behind,
I’m already scratching its itchy legacy.
I should be filled with pride because I’ve climbed my first Munro,
but the only score I’m counting is: midges thirty, climber zero
A fly alit uninvited on the page
and promptly threw itself
into a paroxysm of personal hygiene
as if my words had sullied it.
I caught a fleeting glimpse then
of a poem just as finely-honed,
with all of that agility and presence,
but inevitably as I moved pen to paper
it was gone.
It haunted the high corners
of my childhood, skittering
erratically about the ceiling,
yet certain at some moment
to hurtle without warning
towards my horrified face,
trailing its limbs loosely
like a creature only half alive.
I forget when it grabbed me:
it wasn’t the fly that was half
alive; it was me. A slender crack
between this world & the next
had let something in, strange
and capricious, flighty yet fragile.
From that night forward
I left the window wide open.
Someone cursed the fly,
breaking a blank look
to begrudge its presence.
Probably it too would have
preferred the great outdoors
to this barren zone,
its sixth surface a
Me, I welcomed its intrusion;
of summer forcing
its velocity into the static room.
Warming to its mid-air
ricochets, fired up
for a chance at freedom,
I opened the window wide.
In summer’s molten sizzle of days,
in a sleepy forest’s midday haze,
maggots hatch on a dead bird.
A white tide of squirming rice grains –
lords of death and excrement –
dismantle what it took years to create,
leaving a stack of fine bones,
dusty feathers to flap in the wind.
A leathery cocoon, contours of a cigar,
conceals elaborate metamorphosis:
a silent hum of frantic shifting
hidden inside the plain brown pellet.
Complete, a lid is lifted and out crawls
a brand new fly, unfurling gauzy wings.
Her wings in flight buzz like a chainsaw –
this low sibilation an irksome score
to picnics and barbecues, or indoors
as she bashes against windows
wondering why air is suddenly so hard.
The covellite-blue of her abdomen
and thousand-faceted eyes glisten
like rare jewels. Delicate leg bristles
taste nectar, pollinate flowers, bring diseases.
Freighted with eggs, she smells
a dead rabbit in a nearby field.
-Annest Gwilym (from her collection “What The Owl Taught Me”, 2020. Poem originally published in Reach Poetry)
Daddy Longlegs in the Attic
crashes against the Velux
as if knocking on a door.
Hair-thin legs on stilts
write in italics;
wings diaphanous oars.
It dips where moss
blooms in a corner.
A spider’s noose,
nest of sticky filaments,
sheer as gossamer stockings,
stops its marionette dance.
A pounce. A stab.
A broken doll,
shrink-wrapped in silk.