Grasshopper

He cannot fly, his wings are sere;

his sickly skin of yellowish-green

 

suffocates him like a clinging,

rayon leotard.  Even his stark,

 

swollen eyes, unwinking and peeled,

distended like glistening, bald

 

heads, are actually slack and glazed;

nearly lifeless, they only fathom

 

obscure shapes of impending death.

The springs in his folded hind-legs,

 

curiously jointed and neatly gathered,

are now weakened and rusted; only

 

when teased too much or tormented

do they jerk him briefly in the air

 

or blindly dash him against a wall

in feeble imitation of their former

 

art.  Does he remember how in his prime

he convulsed in trajectories of delight

 

like a nimble pole-vaulter or intrepid

aerialist, how easily he catapulted

 

his agile flesh across obstacles like

a rocket launched in happy propulsion?

 

Now, prey to disabling time, he lies

supine, unless startled in painful

 

fright.  He flip-flops to another side

like a wounded bird in flight or a

 

shell-shocked helicopter careening

in the night.  It's not that he was

 

always thus--he too knew a season

in oxygen, of intensified vitals,

 

wider hours, wild nocturnal flights,

and ecstasies, strange and sudden,

 

single or coupled.  He too, an instant

or two, found that shuddering gasp or

 

shooting spark called love; how it

leaps into swift perfection, responds

 

to thirsting muscles, or shivers,

sated, slaked and sodden... but now

 

already old and inept, he's confined

to a sad, empty courtyard, impotent.

 

Abandoned, there he languishes, unfit

and useless, impervious to all help,

 

a dying grasshopper, baited by ants,

eaten alive bit by bit--mere carrion.

 


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  Copyright © 2005 - Makarand Paranjape