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This poem is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

The Gnat Peter McDonald

So up he got, moving numb legs and arms
that didn't want to move, he was so tired.
Breath was one sigh recurring; in one sigh
the grief rose in his chest, and then it broke
like a wave, collapsing everywhere at once -
grief, that is, for the gnat
                  whose ghost had spoken
all night on the subject of death, last things,
that other world beneath the world we know
where the antique and celebrated shades,
as dead as one another, do their time
in gloomy dungeons or in strange, pale fields;
the gnat, whose well-meant bite had woken him
just as a snake, with trouble on its mind,
came sliding up from nowhere to his side;
the gnat whom, without thinking, he had swiped
...


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