EP: Why Regret by Galway Kinnell

Didn’t you like the way the ants help

the peony globes open by eating the glue off?

Weren’t you cheered to see the ironworkers

sitting on an I-beam dangling from a cable,

in a row, like starlings, eating lunch, maybe

baloney on white with fluorescent mustard?

Wasn’t it a revelation to waggle

from the estuary all the way up the river,

the kill, the pirle, the run, the rent, the beck,

the sike barely trickling, to the shock of a spring?

Didn’t you almost shiver, hearing book lice

clicking their sexual dissonance inside an old

Webster’s New International, perhaps having just

eaten out of it izle, xyster, and thalassacon?

What did you imagine lies in wait anyway

at the end of a world whose sub-substance

is glaim, gleet, birdlime, slime, mucus, muck?

Forget about becoming emaciated. Think of the wren

and how little flesh is needed to make a song.

Didn’t it seem somehow familiar when the nymph

split open and the mayfly struggled free

and flew and perched and then its own back

broke open and the imago, the true adult,

somersaulted out and took flight, seeking

the swarm, mouth-parts vestigial,

alimentary canal come to a stop,

a day or hour left to find the desired one?

Or when Casanova took up the platter

of linguine in squid’s ink and slid the stuff

out the window, telling his startled companion,

“The perfected lover does not eat.”

As a child, didn’t you find it calming to imagine

pinworms as some kind of tiny batons

giving cadence to the squeezes and releases

around the downward march of debris?

Didn’t you glimpse in the monarchs

what seemed your own inner blazonry

flapping and gliding, in desire, in the middle air?

Weren’t you reassured to think these flimsy

hinged beings, and then their offspring,

and then their offspring’s offspring, could

navigate, working in shifts, all the way to Mexico,

to the exact plot, perhaps the very tree,

by tracing the flair of the bodies of ancestors

who fell in this same migration a year ago?

Doesn’t it outdo the pleasures of the brilliant concert

to wake in the night and find ourselves

holding hands in our sleep?

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