Stephen Dunn (June 24, 1939 -)
It has something to do with ugliness,
even more, perhaps, with aggression,
but horseflies inspire no affection,
even though they’re superb pilots.
Maybe because once they were squirmy,
furry things, butterflies seem content
with their sudden beauty, no interest
in getting anywhere fast.
The small brown bird outside my window
has a lilt and a tune. Elsewhere, a baby
is screeching. Watch out, little ones,
there are hawks, there are sleep-deprived
parents, utterly beside themselves.
When I was a child I claimed a grasshopper
hopped over a rock like a rockhopper.
“He likes to play with language,” my mother
told her friends. “He’s so smart.”
She used to hide money in a coffee can,
place it behind the wooden matches
in the cupboard. I swear I never stole it.
She was beautiful, as was our neighbor
with the red jewel on her forehead.
That there’s so little justice in the world —
one of them believed, the other experienced.
To ants a sparrow might as well be
a pterodactyl, and a parrot just one more
bright enormity to ignore
as they go about their business. I’ve tried
to become someone else for a while,
only to discover that he, too, was me.
I think I must learn to scrunch down
to the size of the smallest thing.