the serious taxonomist

(A poem presented without comment on my long blogging silence because really I have no excuse. Not even writer’s block. I know, I’m terrible. I’m sorry. Please don’t hate this thing I wrote. It has been a long winter.)

When you imagine, as you do,
Vladimir Nabokov at his microscope,
poring over the genitalia of butterflies,
you wonder what makes writing good.
You suspect it involves will,
observation, and time,
not mere skill, but dedication
to crossing out phrases that don’t belong,
replacing them with ones that do.
Perhaps it is also a question
of plot, character, truthiness,
but what has that to do
with the bleary-eyed lepidopterist,
purblind from the strain of study?
He knows only how to preserve
the color of the spoken word
and the symmetry of two blue wings.

 

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