Étude for the World’s Smallest Violin

This entry is part 37 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


A silverfish
in the sink when
I rinse my cup.
I lift the trap so
the water will sweep
it down, wayward
eyelash, eater of books.
And the rest
of the day I’m dogged
by a vague
anxiety, as when
an end parenthesis has
failed to put in its
expected appearance,
replaced perhaps by
a small hole clear
through the page
& an italic f
just visible beyond.

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16 Replies to “Étude for the World’s Smallest Violin”

    1. Thanks, Jean! Uncharacteristically, I sat on this poem for a day before posting, and I think it’s much improved as a result, but I still wasn’t prepared for all these warm reactions from y’all.

  1. That is really lovely… I recently wrote my first poem in about five years, and I hope that it wasn’t a one-time anomaly and I continue finding inspiration for more. We’ll see.

    1. Hey, that’s great! I am always wishing more people with training in life sciences would make a serious study of poetry. Most practicing poets are stuck recylcling the same old humanist images and tropes and could use a transfusion of new ideas.

  2. I really liked how that nagging feeling is depicted as a sense that something’s missing on the page. And, yet, in that absence, something new is revealed. As Dale said, Wonderful.

    1. Thanks, man — I’m glad that worked for you. I guess I shouldn’t have worried that I hadn’t done enough to communicate that minor off-kilter feeling. Most everyone is familiar with it from reading certain poems where end parentheses are intentionally omitted.

  3. It’s always the drain for the silverfish. I’m not sure why I feel worse killing these bugs than others. Maybe it’s the appetite for print I share with them. Maybe their love for old letters in my parents’ attic.

    Really nice poem. It drains. The drain and the small hole and the eye in eyelash; the late parenthesis and the italic f and the lash in eyelash.

  4. Just right, Dave. A keeper just as it is. And I love the notion of ‘an end parenthesis (that) has / failed to put in its / expected appearance’ as a characterisation of niggling unease over time.

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