To the Couple Who Moved Into My House
by PAUL BEILSTEIN
     FINALIST for the 2012 46er Prize
You don’t have to hide.
Those flies are always swarming.
Please do not swat them, I have been
watching them all summer.
They’ve learned that swirl of air 
above me, that cloud there, they’ve 
found an opening and flown in, like
teenage daredevils at the roller rink.
It took me all summer
to come up with that one.
Last night I combed my hair
for the first time, and noticed
I can be a handsome boy.
I danced with the roving crowds 
of lightning bugs in Illinois
every July, when the raspberries are best, 
and when the lawn goes brown.
I danced with them, and I know
they prefer to die in jars—
their wings are heavy with humidity.
I have pulled down the clotheslines
and pushed down the leaning garage.
I did not want your car smashed.
I want your stay here to be like mine—
a childhood sleepwalking and vomiting
after Saturday night pizza, after
sitting on the floor watching Star Search
with a pretended sense of irony.
If you want to keep living here,
you should know that I’ve haunted
the bedroom at the top of the stairs
with a pickle jar full of dead fireflies.
It’s behind the grate of the heating duct
where I threw gelatin candy in winter
to see if it would melt. Those flies
could vouch for me, they knew a boy
whose feet were brown and green,
who two weeks ago stepped on
a bumblebee, who can’t remember
diving off the back porch and landing
head-first on the sidewalk. Right there, look:
that birthmark on the concrete is mine.
PAUL BEILSTEIN (B.A. Rhetoric, University of Illinois; M.F.A. English, University of California, Irvine) lives in Portland, OR with his wife Shereen, whose acceptance into a PhD program at the University of Illinois means they will be moving three blocks from where Paul lived as an undergraduate. Ease on down the road, people. His poems have appeared in Faultline and Grey Sparrow and are forthcoming from Wisconsin Review.