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Editor’s Choice Award: David B. Prather

David B. Prather’s first collection of poetry, We Were Birds, was published by Main Street Rag Publishing. His second collection will be published by Fernwood Press. His work has appeared in many print and online journals, including Seneca Review, The Meadow, Cutleaf, and others. His work has been nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart Prizes. He studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College.

Re-Birth Day

A tickle on my ankle could be a bug,
possibly a carpenter ant carving out
the pulp of my body, a termite,
or larva of spotted lanternfly.

An itch along the underside of my arm
could be a paper wasp scraping cells
to build a nest made mostly of me,
or it could be a bark beetle

drilling for bone. My friend,
sends me a picture she found
of a jumping spider carrying a bead
of water upon its back, the flower

beyond revealed perfectly in refraction.
She wishes me well when she knows
I am not. She sends me watercolor
birds in their poses of perpetual song.

I want them to nest in my hair,
roost on my fingers, make me feel
young again. When I am reborn,
I will propagate more branches

than sensible, a home to colonies
of creatures that crawl and cry
and call in the dark, with someone
like my friend, out there, listening.

June Bug

Phyllophaga crinita

It is summer, and I am home late,
my love asleep on the couch
with the television mumbling

and flickering, porch light on
as I make my way to the door.
Tawny brown June bugs kick

at the air, having landed on their backs
after flying too close. I don’t know
what it means when bugs throw themselves

at light. Are they, perhaps, thrown off course,
distracted from the moon? Are they misguided
by the nearness of streetlights, and floodlights,

an incandescence escaping windows
to lure the curious away from their purpose?
I want to mention Icarus here. I want to tell you

my father gave me waxen wings
and warned me of the dangers of the sun.
I want to tell you that sometimes

I cannot resist a brightness so intense
it beckons to be touched. Tonight,
I take the time to set these beetles right,

so they can crawl to higher ground
where they can open themselves
to rising heat. I don’t know

what it means to be tempted
by the luminous as a body approaches
the inevitable. Even my love

has no answer, returned from that
numinous glow. I am still fallen.
Or is it more honest to say I am falling?

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