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Insect in the Kitchen

Eb C

C chord
Eb C Eb C
insect in the kitchen

     Squash it
     You squash it
     Give me that magazine
     Here’s a paper
     Not today’s?
     No not today’s    
          Gone. A wingless one lunges towards his sink, thwacks the hob, the windowsill. A caveman clubbing the sides of his cave. From a distant wall, a back view of him. Hair black, arm made into a club by a newspaper. So what. We are long gone when the news­paper strikes. Our halteres give us balance and direction as we alight on a white wall, a straight edge. As we sail through the oil towards our next source of sugar.
       chord of D to Dm to C
       insect in the living room
       Eb C
     To the dark spot beside the breadboard. Is this the same sugar? We have no memories. We recognise nothing. Elsie excepted, I may recognise Elsie. Her vibrations lead to faint reverberations. Otherwise all manure is one manure. Make it moist.
          Get it
     It’s hopeless with a paper Bob
     Same sugar? We have no same. We have no before, no after, no old debris, old dung, each fleck is arrived at new. Each edge is unique, each white surface. Each said thing. Everything is new when we come to it, bar Elsie.
     Eb C
     baba baba
     A raised newspaper is a surface leaning through the oil towards us. Collision avoided through our physionomy and perform­ance of saccades. While the wingless lunge and lumber, or stand with a club watching the windowpane, we express ourselves in gyro­scopics. The neat sequences of Elsie’s jumps and turns are beautiful.
     I followed Elsie in spirals through the oil. We mated. I think it was Elsie. Sex alone brings faint recollections, reverberations. Maybe it was perfect, whatever that means. Whatever was means. We have no was or will.
     How was it for you? the wingless ask, as if they were not present, as if they were not part of their own selves.
     Leave it to me
     Now Bob, when did you ever swat a fly?
     There’s the Mexican method
     I need a rubber band
     Oil thinning. Delirium. Sugar not on top of the cupboard. There is a dark spot beside the breadboard. Try it. Need sugar.   
     I’ll be in the garden
     I thought you were going to see to that fly
     There are thunderclouds, I have to see the blue at the bottom of the thunder­clouds
     That’s a new one
     I have to go outside and think, maybe it’ll go out through the door
     One wingless lumbering by. Performing ponderous half saccade towards the light. Receding. Elsie out of radius. It rains.
          Bob Bob Bob I’ve got it now, there’s Bob Bob Bob and her who is not Bob. Try the bedroom.
     That goddamn fly, here I am holding my head and in comes that goddamn fly
     Tessa, did you call?
     I’m upstairs—migrane
     What’s the problem?
     One minute in the garden and you’re an expert at migranes, a doctor
     A dark spot by the breadboard. Needs wetting. Daubing. Suck it up. Send it out. Suck it up. Elsie. Chasing Elsie in thousands of wingbeats. Small is fast. We don’t count. We copulate.
     We copulate by the breadboard.
     If you have a migrane there’s usually a reason
     Would you get me an aspirin?
     Wet. Suck. Elsie is looking at me with her wide eyes as we suck. Elsie has blackcurrant something down a leg. She’s standing in it. She pulls herself out, buzzes off.
     We have no links. What links, links to what? We have no memories. No reasons. No stories. I can hear a seagull cackling in the garden.         
     I can’t believe it, one week you know I’m pregnant and the next week you give notice at your job
     They’re so unfriendly
     In the office—they don’t talk to me, you’d have to be there to know Tessa
     So what are we supposed to do, live on dog food?
     Elsie has sugar on the leg. I have sugar on the leg. Look at that, Elsie’s smiling. Is she smiling. How does it feel. Good to eat but it cloys. Elsie is going up and down her leg. We copulate.
     Look, I’ve found a rubber band
     Oh well we’re home and dry then
     I just need to cut it, then it’s too fast for them, pull it back like a catapult, thwack and they’re mush
     Formerly known as Prince
     I’ll get the aspirin
     And lots of water
     By the breadboard. Every snack worth several thousand wingbeats. Eat, live dangerously.
     I got it, in the bathroom
     As long as you don’t show me, look, that must be another
     Here take the glass, I stirred it, now if you don’t mind I’m going to practise the keyboard
     We need to talk
     I won’t be long
     What is this, Bob, what are you saying?
Eb C
C chord
     Black note white note on the synthesiser.
     Baba baba, that is our sound. Our pedicels collect sounds. We have very few things in the plural: sounds, wingbeats, ourselves.
     Wingless rotating his hands at the wrists. I copy with my wings. His wrists. My wing hinges.
     Baba baba G F E C, our pedicels collect these things.
     Elsie not in radius.
     Baba baba, it’s a real foot tapper.
     Our pedicels collect these things.
     Beside the smell of the breadboard is nothing. We patrol the oil ready to smell sugar. Stop on a straight edge. Where is Elsie?
     Tessa, I just looked at a fly through a magnifying glass
     You could try looking at yourself through one
     It was horrible
     Was it dead?
     No, but it seemed in a trance—then I stepped back and thwanged the rubber band
     Thank God, I need the quiet
     You wanted to talk
Eb C
seagull in the garden
     Bob look there, on the curtain—I thought you’d got it—it’s gone out now
     I’ll catch up with it, I dare say it’s in the kitchen


John Saul has had three collections of short fiction published by Salt Publishing (Cambridge, UK). The first, Call It Tender, was well received in The Times.  He lives in Suffolk in England.  His website is


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