Night Insect Roll Call

Night Insect Roll Call

Cynthia Gallaher

sweat bees chase, buzz
me across a bluff
on the Cumberland Plateau
back to the sandstone
reprieve of Rivendell.

I may not be in middle earth,
more at the south paw end of it,
where I see four silent fruit bats
weave like shuttlecocks
on wefted reconnaissance

for mosquitoes on the warp,
those little vampires!
which otherwise
may have knit
swollen anklets for me.

I am too familiar with
such uneven exchanges:
blood letting for liquid itch,
and none too soon, from my
second-floor retreat,

night deepens,
as does the rustle and wave
of a mass rally of integrated insects,
which rattle and whisk the outdoors
like curtains of falling sand,

hold billboard-size stainless panels
they wobble all at once in the dark,
stamp tiny feet in a relentless march
along wooded aisles of aluminum foil,
usher a village of rain sticks shaken, not stirred,

and rend percussion with hundreds of dried gourds
and their thousands of desiccated seeds.
window screens protect me from
their overwhelming thirst
from stalking my flesh after midnight.

but as I fall asleep, am at one with
their multi-voiced symphony
and invite their asymmetrical rhythms
to inspire a dream.

[Cynthia Gallaher]