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DRAGONFLY

by Andrew Hudgins


Hear Andrew Hudgins read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

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Book says "most predacious." Book
says "fastest
    flying insect," says it eats
its body weight in half an hour.
Mother called it
                the devil's
darning needle. Book adds "darner"
and "devil's arrow." Mother said
it would stitch shut the eyes,
                              ears, lips,
of sleeping children, and Book confirms
that mothers would say that.
                              Book says
dragonflies can
                snap a gnat
in mid-
       air, eat it on the wing,
and Book says that what I've always called
a dragonfly is really, with its
long,
            slender body, a
                   damselfly
which strafes the pond clot, soars,
swoops,
                       hovers, sideslips, loops,
                           and twists,
sunlight revealing a new glint
of iridescent
              shimmer -- purple, red,
green, turquoise, gold, gunmetal blue --
with every pass.
                It's hunting: a whip
tip
              cracking gnats out of the air
so quick I can't see it happen
and wouldn't know except I trust
Book, Book,
           the goddamn book, because
I cannot see the hunting. See
what looks like pleasure
                    (loop
                         and soar),
but isn't. Book insists on purpose.
Not even blood sport. Work. But its purpose
is not my purpose: pleasure
                      (dive, jink, roll,
then stillness at great speed)
                              beside black water.




Andrew Hudgins is a professor of English at the University of Cincinatti. His most recent collection of poems is The Glass Hammer (1994).


Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July 1997; Dragonfly; Volume 280, No. 1; page 82.

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