By Joyce Peseroff

Featured art: Street Musicians by Eugène Atget

A small fly hung around my kitchen mid-October.
It didn’t buzz. Outside wet shape-shifted, drop to
flake: knock-knock of rain, a who’s there of snow.
The fly tiptoed on the meat-cutting board where I aimed
to smash it like a head of garlic. It bounced wall to wall to
wall, baby trapped in the balloon that was a hoax.
Was it my mother’s perturbed spirit warning me that blood
stains? Of course not. Last of its kind, Robinson Crusoe landing
on a kitchen island, the fly needed to be warm.

Joyce Peseroff‘s sixth book of poems is Petition. Her fifth collection, Know Thyself, was a 2016 Massachusetts Book Award “must read.” She was founding director of the MFA program at UMass Boston; currently she writes a poetry column for Arrowsmith Press and blogs on writing and literature at

Originally published in NOR 9 Spring 2011

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