Casey Thayer
Reminding Myself That We Are Not Remarkable

Chasing monarchs in the milkweed

you say also, also, wanting more.

This is nothing unusual.

Other children in other gardens

are putting noses to horsemint

where bees hum in nectar they’ll turn

to honey. Nothing unusual.

The corpse flower, its purple spathe

an upturned skirt, stinks

of rotting flesh to attract beetles

and flesh flies for another chance

to bloom. I must remember

the dance of strobes in the swarm

of lightning bugs is not innate,

not a trick, as a scientist claimed,

created by our blinking. The flies

copy those around them until they

synchronize. There exists

an explanation. If I forget,

I’ll waste a summer evening

in the silence of a field’s

empty theatre edged by woods,

watching the spectacle

and thinking it’s a showing only

for me. Things die and are

replaced. Also, also.

Clouds pass as voyeurs on our joy

while you chase butterflies

in the garden. If I’m not careful,

I’ll forget to see as ordinary

the long miles the monarchs cover

every autumn to find us. I’ll forget

my indifference that meteorites

blasting the earth’s mantle

carried all our gold here,

that my wedding band

is extraterrestrial. We take in air

through the same passage

we take in water, it’s a wonder

we can still breathe. I do not

tell myself this. If I’m not careful,

I’ll want to do whatever I can

to save everything I see.







 This poem is the winner of the 2021 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, an award established by APR to honor the late Stanley Kunitz’s dedication to mentoring poets



Found In Volume 50, No. 05
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  • Casey Thayer
Casey Thayer
About the Author

Casey Thayer is the author of Self Portrait with Spurs and Sulfur and Love for the Gun, winner of the Cow Creek Chapbook Prize. Recipient of fellowships from Stanford University and Sewanee Writers’ Conference, his work has appeared in AGNIPoetry, and elsewhere. He lives in Chicago.