One at a time, they’re good luck charms,
quaint as a cartoon greeting-card,
neat dome like a candy button.
At daybreak one circumnavigates
the water glass. His glossy shell
cracks to sprout wax-paper wings.
As the window brightens, more collect
in its skim of condensation.
They cluster on the ceiling,
red and random as measles.
Every so often one is moved
to buzz in sudden spirals
and clatter onto a lampshade,
or bungle into my hair. Their ranks swell,
an army of redcoats. Once doctors
mashed them to cure toothaches;
farmers entreated Our Lady
to send in scarlet swarms–
rosary beads spilling from the sky.
Harvest in, they’d clear the fields
and burn the vines. By afternoon
my multitude has flown.
One straggler still scouts for water,
wandering the wasteland of my desk.