Idle Afternoon

– for Diana Michener

I am sitting in a lawn chair
In the shade of a large maple tree
Preparing to work on a poem
When a box elder bug
Making its way
Among the grasses at my feet
Captures my attention
With the slow and deliberate movements
Of its filament-like jointed legs
As it ascends and descends
One green blade and stalk after another.
And it occurs to me that if it is true
In quantum physics
That the observer changes
The phenomena being observed
Could it also be true
Of the ordinary observations
Of our daily lives?
For instance
Could I somehow be altering
The path or the pace
Or even the ultimate destination
Of the little black and red Boisea trivittata
Simply by looking on?
And if the insect
Bewildered by the mysterious force
That seems to have taken control of its limbs
And its will
Looks up and sees me looming nearby
Could being the object of its gaze
Be the reason I am setting aside
My notebook and pencil
My ambitions and anxieties
And arguments with existence
To spend the rest of this afternoon
Tracking the odyssey of Pilgrim Box Elder Bug
Across the emerald-dark lawn?

By Buff Whitman-Bradley

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poetry has appeared in many print and online journals. He is the author of several volumes of poetry, most recently Cancer Cantata, poems written during his treatment for cancer in 2016. He lives with his wife Cynthia in northern California.


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