Electric Light

Cynthia Zarin

The dragonfly whirs and whirs and will not stop
replaying its ceaseless hum over the tightly pulled rungs
of wire at the topmost end of the scale.
Fire runs along the wires as if someone had wrapped
the sound in rags and lit a match. St. George
in his emerald livery, his tiny jeweled sword drawn, has no time
     for this
domestic crisis, more darning needle
than dragon, who with ragged black stitches tries
to sew up the seam while busily sawing the air
with its tarnished wings
but the tear is there.
Through it I see the blue scribbled-on sky over the sea
where a quiver of dragonflies draws frantic lines
over the high weed-choked rocky dunes.
It wasn’t this summer, I don’t think so—but the summer before
Hot, glassine—no one
knew why they had come nor why were there so many of them—
    obviously speaking
to each other in a language made up of static
fueled by the sun, the sound of steel wool
on a washboard, filling the space between earth
and air by writing over and over it,
                          as my hand does here
—if only one could swallow the sword and be done with it—
leaving no place, under the din of the white-hot filament
of the reading light, free of your name.

Cynthia Zarin is the author of, most recently, Two Cities: Essays on Venice and Rome. Next Day, New and Selected Poems will be published next year.
Originally published:
July 1, 2010


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