Urban Lightwing Professional

Kathryn Smith

Step one was collecting dragonflies. I’d grown expert at standing

perfectly still before thrusting an arm, lizard-tongue quick,

to seize an insect by one wing. Their bodies

excel at contortionism, coiling toward whatever

grabs them to bite their way back to freedom.

One way to classify insects is by their mouthparts, and so

step two was to recategorize the mammals, which was boring,

since our mouthparts are by and large the same—

one set of parts for biting and sucking and lapping. Step two,

done. Next was to check on the progress of wasps

consuming the face of a sparrow. Next was to open the greenhouse

and free a biblical cloud of flying ants, winged for a limited time.

Next, enclose the chicken yard with a taller fence because the tenacity

of hens is surprising, and once in a rare while, one bird will calculate with its

tiny brain, and lift, and flap madly, and will be just as surprised

as the rest of us to find itself grazing in the greener grass.

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