Fruit flies are model organisms. Which is not to say
they are upstanding citizens, but that they can
imitate human systems, meaning: we can see
ourselves in them. And not just because
occasionally you wake to a forgotten wine glass on
the mantle pocked with a tiny black mole that dove
head first into last night’s white with no plan on how
to get out.

Drosophila Melanogaster translates to dark-bellied
dew lover. I’ve had my fair share of those, too.

If someone says, I don’t know what kind of flies are
in my kitchen
, I say, if you can hear them, they
aren’t fruit flies
. I’ve practiced silence while I feed,
too, and hiding. But they do shake their wings when
they call to their mates: like a long note extending
from a vibrating string to a lover’s collar.

To persuade female fruit flies to reproduce, the
male drops to his knees to kiss her genitalia. I’ve
had my fair share of those, too.

They’re perfect for studying genetics: humans
share 60% of their DNA with fruit flies. All those
diseases that soften your brain like a tomato at the
bottom of a bowl are matched in the genome of the
dark bellies that would feed on one. But they’re no
apes, or dolphins—when I crush one under my
palm, I am still surprised by the swathe of red.

I see myself so often now. Every creature a mirror. I
empty the honey traps in the backyard like an
offering, knowing you do not have to love nature.
But can’t I feel small enough, reflected in the black
compound of their eye? A mosaic of evidence to try
to catch and release. To take the time. Or to mourn.

Hungry Girls

We recognize each other without tags:
in hesitation, a far off look: there is only:
in control or out of control: when you
are out of control.

Sharpness of her long legged angles in
her collar all broken necked: how much
can I envy someone before I start to
love them / can I ever really?

I hear her throwing out the leftovers:
jealous of the trashcans: fuller. I reach
out and wrench my own arm back,
caught: a thread tangled in its bobbin:
an iron chain bound to its own loop.

Recovery: as if there is something to
find: like a beach ball pushed under:
you resurface faster the further down
you push. And yes, a spring can recoil
again and again: but not without
diminished returns: not without decay.

For the record: the numbered list: in /
out: in my pocketbook: like a severed
finger of evidence: I didn’t think anyone
would believe me without proof: no scar
left but the stutter. You can’t confirm a
memory that constantly translates itself
to the present.

From a distance I watch her hammer
away at yielding: the same dark knotted
axis we all pivot around: performing
reluctance that gently converts to habit.

Testifying for each other in the court of
forgiveness: details of each adaptation
irrelevant: the truth and nothing but:
yes, it could be me: yes, it still is.


It could’ve been anyone, which means no one:
reflective glass scattered, framework gaping.

Forgetting is the ultimate form of forgiveness.
When a lover apologizes, I say, forget about it.

I can care so much about a person
that I can care for myself in their presence.

That’s how this all started, me caring for myself
with my hand down my shorts.

I don’t forgive myself for past transgressions
and walk through a dense fog, remembering

each discrete guilt until another crash
obliges me to sweep it up.

I feel most human when cleaning.
Very much like a woman

when doing any hard labor.
But disrupting the habit of undoing

doesn’t clean up the mess.
I don’t have to look the debris in the eye

to gather it all without hesitation.
I cut myself so the cat won’t.

The pain is less because I know why.
But I can’t explain to her /

him / it / doesn’t matter.
I almost forgot that it matters to anyone:

should like the dotted line of trajectory
like cut here when you don’t have scissors

and need kindling to keep warm.
I kiss past lovers in the cold darkness

of memory reformed to dream.
I remember how much desire is in me and feel

most like an animal when I desire
and most ok when I forget:

like the thing happens and then you clean it up.
There is nothing left to be decided.



Melissa Dias-Mandoly is a poet living in Pittsburgh with her cat, Catrick Bateman. She studied poetry, film, and gender studies at the University of Pittsburgh, where she was twice awarded the undergraduate poetry award. Her work has been featured in PANK, Hot Metal Bridge, Storm Cellar, Bone Bouquet, and more.