What It Loved or Wanted

Poem by J. Morris

At dusk my UV lamp stained

lilac the white towel nailed

beneath it to the porch rail.

Out of the nervous mutter of almost-rain,

a Polyphemus came to the light:

huge, one Cyclops eye blinking

with every beat of each back wing.

My camera blinded him, then restored his sight


in sequence, flash after flash. Benign

equipment compared to my childhood net,

jar, poison, pin: death

proving, I think, beauty: hard, though, to re-mind

that childhood self, remember what

it loved or wanted. In your absence,

in silence, I placed

on the table beside the moth—eyespots


staring, gone stiff and frightened—

your photograph, the one I trimmed

to fit my wallet. Your image eyed him,

I measured both of you, focused, found

a frame that seemed to work, and took

the shot. Proving, I think, something

about size, the comparison—this thing

was bigger than a wallet-photo, look!


you had no interpretation

to offer, being nowhere near,

and the rain tore,

drop by drop, a hole in the composition.


American Arts Quarterly, Summer 2013, Volume 30, Number 3