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by Margaret Kay

I stoop to touch you where you lie;
Your wings are broken and already I
see some ants have found you.  They run
in circles exploring you,
your spent egg case, your unseeing eye.
Did a gust of wind blow you from the sky?
Or did you fall from weariness
as again and again you climbed
the stem of a milkweed to find
the exact right spot to lay your eggs?
Your egg sac heavy with your eggs.
Before you died, did you think of him?
Before each tiny facet dimmed
in your mosaic eyes, did you
remember him and how he opened wide
his wings and folded you inside?
I take your poor, tired, esquisite
body and hide it where no ant will find it.
Female, I think, female.
I have lingered here too long.  It is late
when I turn homeward to where he waits,
that old stranger who used to lie his head
upon my smooth, white belly and sedate
me with love.  No purpose for love now.
No turmoil in the uterus, no eggs
waiting to float free, no eggs
waiting to drift resolutely
toward life in a spermatozoan sea.


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