Christopher Reid

After Machado

Dear common flies,
ubiquitous and greedy,
how well you conjure up
those times that have gone.

Old flies guzzling
like bees in April,
old flies launching raids
on my new-born head.

Flies of my early
homebound boredoms,
those summer afternoons
when I first learned to dream.

And in the hated classroom,
flies that whizzed past
as we hit out at them
for love of their flight –

flying being everything –
and that buzzed against the windowpanes
on autumn days …
Flies for all seasons:

for infancy and puberty,
for my gilded youth,
for this, my second childhood
of innocence and unbelief,

for now and for ever … Common flies,
you’re too promiscuous
to have found an adequate singer:
I know how you’ve dallied

on marvellous toys,
on the covers of books,
on love letters,
on the unblinking eyelids

of corpses.
Ubiquitous and greedy,
lazier than bees
and scruffier than butterflies,

piffling, unruly,
you’re old friends, nonetheless,
as you conjure up
those times that have gone.