with deer flies with a sip of sweet nectar
and some pollen to carry to the neighbor.
The swallows thrive on flies, touching each
in mid-air like the tip of a whip.
We humans offer them our blood
for their gift of wisdom.
A long walk teaches all you need to know.
The dancing swarm behind your knees
gives you a quicker pace, shows
suffering and joy are proportioned
to the attention you give them.
Breathe the free breeze.
Pick the cottonwoods by their voices,
the orioles and buntings by their flash.
Once a mile a hot stab at the cuff of your sock
is all the reminder you need.
The flies are not what you walk for.
Slap it, turn your eyes to the treetops and
whatever you do keep moving. If you stop
to face the flies, you’ll kill a few.
Stay still long enough and the flies will leave.
They plague only the quick, the moving.
The shadow sweeping across yours
tells you the vultures are interested.
Your choice. Flies or vultures?
Moving or still?
Turn around. Face the road. Something
will catch you, but let it be unawares.
~ Greg Bryant
Greg Bryant and his wife Susan live in Robinson, Kansas. Greg teaches English composition, literature, and creative writing at Highland Community College. This poem was previously published on Greg’s blog, poetseye.wordpress.com.