From After April Rain (Longship Press, 2021)

Sherman

by Elizabeth Oxley

That's what I name the baby fly

stuck inside our hotel room: twelfth floor,

Times Square, New York City buzz.

A trip with my thirteen-year-old daughter.

She's all spitfire and I-hate-you,

perfect teenage storm. In mothering hell,

I gaze up from my bed and spot Sherman—

tiny teacup fly. For three days, I watch him

climb dreary walls, worried a housekeeper

might martyr him. At night, after museums,

we walk to the triangle park: food trucks

jam-packed, fish tacos beneath fairy lights.

Silent, my daughter eats her crêpe. I pray

sugar will sweeten her. Snagging a cup,

I take it back to the room—wait, lunge,

miss. At last, I clap it over Sherman

and use a napkin to seal him in. My daughter

rolls her eyes. She rides down with me though, 

taking the elevator to the marble lobby,

exiting between buildings singed orange

with summer sun: mounds of garbage,

sidewalk crowds—jackhammers, hipsters,

intoxicating urban thrum. You haven't achieved

anything in your life, my ex-husband once said

to hurt me. With a falconer's gesture,

I raise my cup. Sherman spirals up,

and when my daughter laughs, setting free

the doves of her teeth, I know what I've done.