There Is a Black Fly in Your Chardonnay

Outside, I have never been lonesome,
Always a fence, a plank, an eyebrow in the ocean,
A baby received in a house, anything tall is a tree.
The sky rearranges itself in the desert;
The sky rearranges itself in the water;
The sky rearranges itself while I am in the sky.
How lucky I thought I was to see the street lights turn on,
Clouds like rows of planting, mistakes we make and agree to continue,
A view of the river, my rock in the glade,
Bigger, relatively, and still, until,
I pull my lover open like a zipper,
I drag a trowel through them,
I lick the paint off my own stick,
I have a cold back and wet ankles.
Later, a slow moon laboring over the hillside;
Later, the fog reflects the moon;
Later, my blood is sucked and I itch.
Will we will we ever find home? 
The car calls us in the distance,
To walk the stairs, to take off my shoes, to stand 
Wringing hands, scratching grass blades on toenails. 
You are starting to see things we could never see before like:
You have been born,
Or how I waited a whole year for September,
A piece of fruit,
A source of fire,
An edge, an excuse on a small scrap of paper,
The woods in my mouth.
It is so hot today like yesterday and the day before.


Copyright © 2022 by Rindon Johnson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 10, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘Black Fly’ came together as most of my poems do: from the weaving of memories of my own with those of my close friends and family. This poem began when L Frank, an artist friend of mine who is Tongvan, told me a story about Pimu (Catalina Island). I spent a lot of time on Pimu as a child, and L Frank’s story pushed me into a space of writing. At some point, when the language started to hold together, it seemed to be about the seasons and the sensual nature of the months passing, of looking back and forward. This idea of passing time began, necessarily, to incorporate the confusion of climate change’s familiarity in our lives—and, suddenly, there was this poem.”
Rindon Johnson