Friday, May 27, 2011
Night of the moths
I'm thinking of moths now because I'm thinking of people, how they flicker close to the flight and swell with its warmth, how they charm and seduce and suddenly they are gone.
And one night if we leave all the windows open they may give us a glimpse. They may rap on the casement like the long dead Cathy at Heathcliffe's abode, they may show us some of their old fire before they vanish again to the periphery.
In a certain light moths can fool and deceive. They can light up like butterflies or fireflies lighting up the lonely path down the railway line. But when they are gone we are filled with a sense of unreality, as if a spectral presence has buzzed low over our tombs.
One night in Northumberland we left all the windows open and the electric lights on. Until the room was filled with the flittering of velvet wings. But our parents came in and killed the lights. They shut the windows and shooed away the moths - pesky creatures who feasted on clothes, they said.
But in a peverse way it was the best night of our lives.
Nobody told me then the moths ate on souls. And in the years that followed I have missed those nights of transluscent wings.
Moths by Jennifer O'Grady
Adrift in the liberating, late light
of August, delicate, frivolous,
they make their way to my front porch
and flutter near the glassed-in bulb,
translucent as a thought suddenly
wondered aloud, illumining the air
that's thick with honeysuckle and dusk.
You and I are doing our best
at conversation, keeping it light, steering clear
of what we'd like to say.
You leave, and the night becomes
cluttered with moths, some tattered,
their dumbly curious filaments
startling against my cheek. How quickly,
instinctively, I brush them away.
Dazed, they cling to the outer darkness
like pale reminders of ourselves.
Others seem to want so desperately
to get inside. Months later, I'll find
the woolens, snug in their resting places,
full of missing pieces.