I was at a bar, and
in the men's room there was that velvet smell
of ammonia and mothballs,
and there was the sweaty, spotty chrome
and the sudden cry of the door
and there were bright echoes and the hard,
sharp sounds of my steps,
and there was a fly.
It waited until I was fully alone and,
even then, there was nothing random in its motions.
When the fly
calculated and desired
in all four dimensions and corkscrewed
and spiralled around me, all I heard was
the private ringing in my ears. All I could hear was
the whispered din of my thoughts, modulated
by the hissing waves of my pulse, that was all
I could hear--
but I swear I felt the brush of the air when the fly
circled and circled its tight orbits around my forehead.
I washed my hands, and the fly watched, and rotated.
I didn't understand the dance,
and I pretended to grow bored,
but the fly watched back at me and knew better.
There were three black stripes on its thorax,
(why did I remember the grey, hairy parts of a mouche)
not ugly or disturbing in any way,
and three black rows of diamonds
dripping down its muddy yellow abdomen.
It breathed deliberately,
to draw my eyes to the dark diamonds and I matched it,
breath for breath for breath, and I stared it down.
It had two red seas of eyes and sharp, cleft feet.
It danced, and I watched,
and it watched as I watched and then
In the bar, there was a woman speaking French
with an American accent.
She had blue-grey eyes and long dark hair and
her eyes looked tired.
When I went back to the men's room
the fly was still there.
When I went back to the bar
the woman was gone.
I thought she had been stealing glances at me with her
I thought she had been sharing with me
the secret of her weariness
but I was wrong and I felt stupid.
In the street outside the bar
there was another woman.
This one blonde, and sad. I started home.
The blonde woman stopped in front of a window
filled with Scandinavian furniture
and stared inside. We stood quite still.
In the window, there was a lamp lit, and a large, black
fly was walking
inside the shade.
All we could see was the silhouette of its dance.
I pretended not to understand.
Copyright John D Porter © 1996
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