Rich Ives

An Evolutionary Recovery

Bluet Damselfly

To heat the water for early tea, your body, blue in the morning half-light with its black markings for shadowed gestures, its wings still unmarked, darted, as only first flush of rising can, among the instantaneous duties of an impulsiveness I found once more arousing.

We’ve explored. We’ve become common in our lakes and streams.

This morning is in the world and we must find it.

As expected, the weather changed. When are you going away? we asked nearly everything. Sources of departure were removed only to find their influence in this way more presently departed. And yet there was an odd familiarity about it that remained and spoke too much, saying, I have not received adequate attention for the beauty of my foul collections.

Why must an attentive male be so brightly colored, as if touching himself were a conviction, an intimacy of retention? Why must you leave such a fleeting container of regrets upon my tongue, there in your mouth, where the silence fell? Why must the children have hidden gills and filaments to breathe under all that water?

Flit and rustle. What makes his approaching wing-beats so heavy and slow, as if he was still climbing out of his childhood self and kept looking behind to see his footprints?

To cool the water for the molting syntax that passes between, hidden from the sentences of fish, whose wings have forgotten the air and hunger for all that we have contained in our slowly vertical singular formations, one by one leaving little oceans and lingering on the shore. Was that my life beneath the surface?

We’ve nearly been left behind. We’ve become ephemeral upon ponds and creeks.

This evening is in the same body, and we must find it.

An Eviction Notice with Modest Explanatory Adjustments

Cat Flea

I’ve discovered that the “sand fleas” are not parasites of sand, nor are they singular although why I thought of only one when it occurred to me remains a mystery. They are the guests of either the cat or the dog. You, my unexpected renter who pays no rent, have accepted the unintentional invitation of the cat.

Let’s pretend I have not called you a flea, and your dignity is intact. You may even be grateful, for the cat is both my cat and your new home. You have a comfortable place to live. You are not yet aware that I have removed a few of your countrymen and examined them, dark brown bodies with spines, combs of spines on their heads, similar to the dog flea but with low sloping foreheads. I do not mean to imply you are unintelligent. You do not have a low sloping forehead, but I have learned that you would be nearly as comfortable in their neighborhood as your own. What you are doing to the surfaces of your apartment I shall not detail. You know what is beyond mere habitational involvement, and I would not be exaggerating to call it invasive. Your family appreciates, I am sure, the home you’ve provided and your children, who do not look at all like you, live, like all the children of your kind, in their own little nests upon the cat or around the areas where the cat sleeps, not necessarily even your own cat, for the surroundings of my dwelling are frequently visited by others.

Let me modify the reality that must be approached now. You are not exactly a parasite, but a temporary ectoparasite, and you may be innocent of intent, but you can indeed offer me dermatosis and you may also carry diseases. I shall refrain from being disgusted by this, but I shall not refrain from the eviction. As with all such legal actions of landlords, you shall have a brief period of relocation opportunity before I institute the necessary proceedings. To put it simply, chemical warfare.

There are more of you than you are probably even aware of, residing rent-free upon your host, who did not, as you seem so easily to imply, actually invite you. This is more than merely unlawful residence. It’s an internationally recognized border violation. Cats who do not fully own themselves, which we shall here-by call feral, are the only ones who can legitimately invite you to share their residence. This is not slavery or kidnapping but common law power of attorney. Therefore, let me assure you, that should you or any of your kind, as I fully expect to be the case, decide to remain, mass destruction is imminent. I have the weapons. It’s not illegal to enjoy them.

An Experiment

Raspberry Sawfly

You will need a glass tumbler and some raisins. You will need abundant hungry children to make the foliage lacy. The raisins may linger a while, gyrate crazily, and then descend to the bottom of the argument, which may repeat itself again and again until the raisins are eaten by visitors, who are not so likely to make lace of them.

The glass is an intrusion. The glass is artificial. So are the positionings with which we can make certain things happen although they often do not actually happen as we expect them to. The children may feed on more than the interior of the leaf, cutting irregular holes between the veins of unexpected visitors. Do you think you qualify as an unexpected visitor? Do you think your expectations should be the measure of your answer?

You will need to develop rapidly. The children fall or crawl to the ground within two weeks, and they dig small cells in the soil. They spin a cocoon and live in it until spring, much as you do between experiments. Have you considered how much of an experiment you are?

Now replace the raisins with raspberries, with chocolate coins, with choo choo trains. Let the glass tumbler tumble. Take pride in the shattering. Take pride in the artistic placement of the shards that you will address with your creative appreciations. What has been gained by this effort?

When the children have healed themselves, they become adults, and the adults will be asking for more glass tumblers. The raisins, however, are arbitrary. The raisins are only your raisins. You don’t have to give them anything. You don’t have to plant them. You don’t have to make anything lacy. You are not the purpose of the experiment. Like all scientists, you are only the facilitator, which is enough for this experiment though the ones still calling themselves adults, as always, will increase the value of the unknowns, such as the raisins, which do not taste like raisins because you weren’t supposed to eat them.

Rich Ives has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press–poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York—fiction chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking (What Books–stories) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press–hybrid).