Construction Literary Magazine

Fall 2020

The Borders; After Alchemy

The Borders; After <i>Alchemy</i>
Photograph via Flickr by renee.hawk
The Borders

Dragonflies swarm the sky. Above my house, a confusion of wings and elongated bodies. Last year, the biting flies. The year before, blue aphids in hibernation-seeking clouds.

Into the search bar, I type “why so many dragonflies this year.” No local answer. Everything has a cycle.

When overrun with insects, we call it a plague. When overrun with humans, we call it ….

Into the search bar, I type “how to taxidermy a dragonfly.” I am afraid to click the YouTube videos. I am afraid to click a site called

I soak the dragonfly overnight in nail polish remover, which I find in the bathroom cabinet though I don’t have any nail polish.

We call is progress or crisis, depending on the borders.

Will it alter the results that the acetone is mixed with fragrance and yellow no. 7 and expired?

My grandmother was buried unembalmed, her body kept frozen until the funeral.

Insects migrate, crossing invisible lines in the airspace. Invisible borders underground.

Air migrates across a border. Borders migrate with wind and shifting coastlines, when rivers redraw their banks. Borders migrate when insects carry bits of soil across them.

I like the idea of natural decay, but I did not like to think of her so cold.

After Alchemy

I look up from the Book of Spells at the page for conjuring boar
                                                   to watch hens peck something

bright-orange and unrecognizable. Not from my garden. It’s funny
                                                  how unhealthy air can taste so delicious
compared with hazardous. I mean funny as in sad, as in

not quite believable, though by now
                                                  we should all believe

in hurricanes and wildfires in their convergence, this goldilocks zone
                                                  of dread. This summer will be endless.
When I say “epic,” I mean like Homer, like something’s

gonna have to get stabbed in its only eye before we

can clutch a ram by its stinking underfur and escape.
                                                  I dislike the sound of children

playing. Too much like a thing in pain and wailing. A fire starts with boys
                                                  who don’t believe in consequence.

A war starts the same. Ash coats
                                                  everything, film on my teeth, film

on the boar’s coarse hairs, on the telltale pelt
                                                  of skunk that slinks my yard at night.

Oh, to be a thing nocturnal, mirror-eyed
                                                  and reeking. Oh, to be a thing despised.