(A conversation and poetry reading among donkeys and flies.)
“I like to let them sit in the sun so the wings get a bit crispy before I eat one,” said Lucia, the smallest of the donkeys.
“You eat them?” asked Paco.
“Yes, but I don’t chew, just swallow them whole — they are less bitter,” she answered.
Just then, a bunch of flies came swooping in, landing on the ears of the donkeys, and their legs, backs, necks, and noses.
“Good morning!” said the flies. “It is a wonderful sunny day, perfect for being a fly on a donkey.”
All the donkeys collapsed in the dusty earth and began to roll and dust.
“I hate it when they do that,” said the lead fly. “It squashed my aunt last week.”
Paco brought out a small piece of crumpled paper. You see, Paco is a poet. He has been writing poetry since he was a young donkey. You might not have ever met a donkey poet, most likely because donkeys are very humble about their skills. Paco hid his talent for years, fearing the herd might think him odd. But they heard him reciting a poem once to a bird in a tree and they really liked it, so from that day on, they encouraged him to share his poems.
“Do you have a poem to read, Paco?” asked old Matilda.
“I do; it is called, ‘Flies, Oh Why?’” and then he cleared his throat and began to recite his poem.
“Flies, oh why?
Why do you bite me? Why do you hover?
It is hard for a little donkey to find cover.
We wait all winter for the warm air
We want to lay about without a care.
But you come along and picnic on our backs
This is very rude, we are not snacks.
Yesterday I was listening to the song of a bird
It was the most beautiful sound I’d ever heard.
But then there came a buzzing to the left and the right
You ruined my bird’s aria and made him take flight.
Can’t you find another skill that wouldn’t ruin our day?
Perhaps you could learn to fly a kite or make love in the hay.
I know it’s your life and you will do as you please
But I will have to squash you if you chew on my knees.
The flies all stopped for a second; their buzzing was hushed to silence.
“How would we go about learning to fly a kite?” a young fly asked.
“Now listen, you are a fly — you are not a kite flier!” a big manly fly said.
“Let’s go make love in the hay,” a lady fly said to the manly fly.
And with that, the flies all swarmed to the hay barn.
“Paco, don’t let anyone ever tell you that your poetry has no power,” said Pino.
And with that, the donkeys took one last roll in the dust to scratch their fly bites and headed down to their field of grass.
(Katherine Dunn, of Apifera Farm in Bremen, is an artist and a writer. Apifera is a nonprofit that takes in elderly and special-needs animals and shares them with elder people. Visit katherinedunn.us to learn more.)