When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone

By Galway Kinnell

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 go slap

the flesh under her, and one lifts the toad

from the pit too deep for him to hop out of

and carries him to the grass, without minding

the toxic urine he slicks his body with,

and one envelops, in a towel, the swift

who fell down the chimney and knocks herself

against the 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.