Poem for the Bug on My Basement Floor

In my basement gym, an insect
long as my thumb, brown and
gold, with many legs and
feelers fore and aft—long bending
appendages like bones from
the wings of birds. Halfway
through my workout, I notice
him on the floor, in front of
the mirror, still as a spider
when you switch on the light.

I decide I’ll kill him when
I’m done with my biceps, but while
I’m exercising, I study his long
bending body, his royal colors,
his extravagant ribcage and
find that by the time
I’m finished, I can’t do it.
Great bug, I won’t kill you
I promise, feeling silly, then go
on whispering to him while

I exercise—about my day,
my stories and poems, past loves
and bills I need to pay—during
which he stays motionless,
a rapt and careful listener, until
I realize this tiny thing, this emperor
of bugs, another vessel surely
for some measure of God
or atman, need never
fear the likes of me—

he must have died alone
sometime in the winter, merely
leaving his corpse like the husk
of a bomber in a junkyard.
Old warhorse of lost stories,
perhaps more fierce in your day
than an entire Marine division,
I will carry you out solemnly
and wish you well on your way
to becoming a butterfly.

This is a reprint of work originally published in Chiron Review.

Michael Meyerhofer’s fourth book, What To Do If You’re Buried Alive, was published by Split Lip Press. He is also the author of a fantasy series and the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. His work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rattle, Brevity, Tupelo Quarterly, Ploughshares, and many other journals. For more information and an embarrassing childhood photo, visit https://www.troublewithhammers.com.

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3 Responses to Poem for the Bug on My Basement Floor

  1. Pingback: Dining al Fresco w/ a lizard | Seriously?

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