David Prather


Mycetophilidae trichonta

Bees, surely. Definitely
                         locusts. Briefly, even
           mayflies with their devil tails
                                  and cracked glass wings.
In multitudes, they swarm,
                        sometimes plague.
          But the pin spots of gnats
                                    illuminated by evening light
as it slips off the edge of the world,
                          these my grandmother             
            called clouds. Sometimes,
                                     they’d hover as fog
over the stream that crawled
                         past our house in summer.                
            Even the shade of buckeye,
                                     the shadow of sycamore and maple
was cool over that dilly-dallying water.
                        Sometimes, I closed my eyes
             and ran through them.

They danced over the yard
                         as though they were summoning
            an evening dew, which sparkled
                                    spider webs to keep us all
from getting trapped. A skinny child,
                        my grandfather said I’d be carried off
           by the wind. I wondered
                                   where such tiny things shelter
during a storm. They could be windswept
                         like me, dragged through branches
            and leaves, blown off course
                                   to an unfamiliar land where clouds tumble
and tangle and scrape the tops of mountains.
                          But here in the valley, these creatures, barely
              substantial enough to be part of this world,
                                        catch strands of light on their wings,
cumulus together without a care
                        for the restless air, nor my lonely form,
            which passes right through.