Gnats are flying, and I think about the first insects, 340 million years before flowers—an alien earth preserved in these very hills.
The air’s so clear I can see gnats 100 feet away—bright motes wandering among the trees. Dead leaves crowd together at the end of the porch.
Bright and still. Two dozen gnats form a cloud of Brownian motion, rising and falling above a fixed point—some stone or blade of grass.
Filmy-winged gnats are blown past the porch, pale as snowflakes in the strong sun. Overhead, the fierce cries of ravens playing in the wind.
A new bloom of gnats—I saw them swarming by the back door—and the yard is full of fall warblers, foraging with the chickadees and titmice.
When I finally pay attention, what do I see? Just gnats orbiting an apparently arbitrary point in the middle of the yard. Just their wings.
High in the trees, a small cloud of gnats yoyoing up and down, backlit by the sun, while an itch grows on my hand where a mosquito drills.
Backlit by the sun against the dark woods, a swarm of lekking gnats, their Brownian motion now faster, now slower. An annual cicada’s whine.
A warm morning. The yard is filled with the bright wings of insects drifting up and down, back and forth against the dark woods.
It’s hot. At last the annual cicadas sound fully charged. The air is alive with tiny insects in non-intersecting orbits back-lit by the sun.