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The exhausted bug.

Here is a tiny, hard-shelled thing. He is the length of a child's tooth, and clearly the fire of life is flickering out there. It upper shell, the shape of a long seashell, wears its overlapping sidings, eight of them, all delicate brown, shaded as if it were some great cloth made for delicate wrists. The two antennae look bent and discouraged. When I turn it over with the tip of my Pilot ballpoint pen, the white legs move appealingly, even though my first response is confusion, as when we see the messy underside of any too-well-protected thing. It has twelve legs, six on each side, pale as tapioca. There are two pincers that come out to protect the head from hostile knights; or perhaps the pincers are meant to take hold of food. What else could they be? I guess that it has exhausted itself, perhaps over weeks, trying to escape from this cloisonne dish on my desk. This dish is too little to hold a breakfast roll, and yet it is walled Sahara to this creature, some courtyard in which the portcullis is always closed, and the knights, their ladies, their horse-drangers always, mysteriously, gone. The sharp lamplight lit up the dish;; it is odd that I did not see him before. I will take him outdoors in the still hill chill spring air and let him drink the melted snow of late afternoon on this day when I have written of my father stretched out in his coffin.
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Author:Bly, Robert
Publication:The American Poetry Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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