Stink Bug

BY BJ Ward
Posted 7/24/19

My five-year-old lives a lyric.

Dylan intended to brush his teeth 20 minutes agobut was arrested by the beauty of a stink bug.

He squeals when it tumbles through the air,buzzing a yard to land …

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Stink Bug

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My five-year-old lives a lyric.

Dylan intended to brush his teeth 20 minutes ago
but was arrested
by the beauty of a stink bug.

He squeals when it tumbles through the air,
buzzing a yard to land on the edge
of my glass of seltzer.

The stink bug is to him
what the solitary bird was to Whitman
in “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking.”
This being compels Dylan
to live a life of observation.

He is living a lyric life
but he needs to brush his teeth.

“Narrative,” I say to him, as gently as possible.
“But Daddy—lyric,” he says.

I am the authority, an old story
that I only sang as a father.
I somehow find myself saying,
“The stink bug is beautiful, son,
but you must brush your teeth—”

How it circumnavigates the lip
of my cup, as if seeking riches in a New World,

as I ascend the stairs with it—
I who have never held pestilence
so carefully—

so that Dylan can continue to study it
in its little empty stitch round and round
what I drink from,

now in the bathroom as he brushes his teeth,
until what emanates from his mouth
doesn’t stink anymore.

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