The sculptor pointed to her favorite mayfly—
Yellow abdomen the length of my nail, wings
Like translucent sails—it was alive
For a day. She'd pinned hundreds
To foam-core boards. For years we corresponded
In lengths of twine; a secret code
She insisted was improving her art.
Mostly it was confusing, especially at first
Back when the insects in her collection didn't exist
And I hadn't experienced the competing sorrows
Of parenthood. What can I do
To ensure that my children are just? I said.
The sculptor suggested I'd gone too long
Without being moved by the surprise shape
Of a non-human sentient being.
Two months later I received from her estate
A framed display of a dozen mayflies.
That night I described the video to my son.
And that, I said, is why we protest.
Not all police are bad, he said—
The screen door slammed. It's responsible of you
To talk to him, Kisha said, but next time
Make a plan. I wore a mask
To pick up my son's equations. His teacher
Handed me a seedling. Sweet
Basil. He should rub these leaves between his fingers
And smell them, she said. Tell him
I miss him. She looked exhausted
Like she might be married to a poet using news.
On my way home I stopped beside a stream.
A mayfly landed on my knee. My first impulse
Was to capture it, show it to my son.
I showed him two headlines. One was a lie.