Fruit Fly

by Laton Carter

There is movement at the periphery of your vision.

It might be madness. (The mad
cannot be fully dispensed with.) Or it might not

be madness. You can catch it. Or
you haven’t. The movement reappears

after you’ve snuffed its life. Protect
the ripened skin from it. Bodies

multiply. Bodies disappear. Reappear. Delicate

fragrant skin. Dispose of it. (But that is not
how to catch a body.) Lay out overnight

an invitation, any sweet surface in which
to drown. (Drowning movement becomes

no movement at all.) The drowned
see no bodies. No one has ever been talking.

Laton Carter’s Leaving (University of Chicago) received the Oregon Book Award. Previous work has appeared in Brooklyn Review, The Citron Review, Narrative, The St. Ann’s Review, and Western Humanities Review.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “Fruit Fly”?

This poem is part of a series I’m working on where insects either speak or are spoken about. The fruit fly, as I started obsessing about it, seems itself a compressed form of obsession: it swirls around and dive-bombs a sugar source until it’s either ready to reproduce or until — say, with a glass of wine — it drowns in its own objective. This behavior, which seems like a kind of madness, induces its own madness — just when you think you’ve extinguished it by a clap of your hands, your palms open to nothing, and the thing is already flying around again. The poem, as a result, took on its own uncertain behavior — who was drowning? The fly (doing its job) or the speaker (trying to negate the job)?



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