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EPHEMEROPTERA

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On a slab of Jurassic shale, an ovate
body, legs fine as eyelashes,
the mayfly's precise signature,
consummate, immortal.

Now its descendents, in a tumult
of mating, roil the air on Koerner's
sluggish creek below the hill
where the Ebenezer Baptist church,

its doors agape, declines daily
into dust and rubble.
Beyond the church, the graveyard
encroached by nightshade

and nettle, its stones listing
or broken or gone, a few bearing
words now scarcely visible:
Eliza, Beloved Wife . . . In Perpetual . . . .

A million years from now the stricken
stones will be scoured clean
and ephemerids will rise each spring
to dance above the clouded waters.

Source: Poetry

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This poem originally appeared in the September 1999 issue of Poetry magazine

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EPHEMEROPTERA

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