When one has lived a long time alone,
one refrains from swatting the fly
and lets him go, and one hesitates to strike
the mosquito, though more than willing to slap
the flesh under her, and one lifts the toad
from the pit too deep to hop out of
and carries him to the grass, without minding
the poisoned urine he slicks his body with,
and one envelops, in a towel, the swift
who fell down the chimney and knocks herself
against window glass and releases her outside
and watches her fly free, a life line flung at reality,
when one has lived a long time alone.
"When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone" [excerpt] by Galway Kinnell. Text as published in When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone (Knopf, 1990).
Art credit: Untitled photograph of a released swift by G. Kaiser (digitally altered by curator).