The Flies ||| Rattle

That summer day it all went bad
a swarm of flies infested the house,
entered through holes in the screens
and settled upstairs in the room I was using
to type my novel. They buzzed boldly,
each big as a bee, black marbles shot from
a god’s thumb, grown fat on who knows what,
maybe the meat of my marriage, our decay
that stunk of death. So instead of writing
I spent most of the day chasing flies,
like a shadow I stalked them, sweating,
swearing, swatting them with nothing
but an open hand and the last of my hope.
In the night they were still alive
and had moved to the bedroom with me,
winged eyes staring down at my wife
as she pretended sleep, at me as I slipped
my hand across the soft silk of the chiffon
covering her crotch. Patiently the flies
scaled the walls, as my hand
pressed harder until she turned away,
groaned a fake groan, and fell back
into a new pretend sleep. Moonlight
slimed through the window. Nothing
was left to be done or tried but stare
at the flies, watch them flying
wall to wall, one mate to another.
James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Ploughshares, River Styx, The Sun, and many others. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle.
The Flies” by James Valvis first appeared in Rattle on February 6, 2011.