A Field Guide to the Moths of North America
Promethea Midsummer vibrato. Nightfall of yellow poplar, spicebush and sassafras. Sex at altitude will end in the underbrush. Our next subject: the moon. Luna All day you horded your shadow, but at dusk, the spider web in the low branches of the birch caught and held, for an instant, the sun. Grape Leaffolder I lie curled in the leaf, antennae to yesteryear. The joy of not-to-be-seen rivals the joy of not-to-have-been. I missed you this morning, light-long and blinding horizon. And wind, wind infinitesimal at the base of the stalk where passes through dreaming the noonday thunder of the marching ants’ hooves. Three-banded Fairy Arrest and suspension. Pasture and cloud band, one moment frozen in the sepia light of the 1970s, a lakeshore, a blanket spread on the grass and the smell of smoke from a camp fire. Could you wake now, it would be resurrection. A flutter, a stir. Your mother’s hair. Your father’s voice. A word whispered out of the dirt. Virginia Ctenucha I'll begin within you, your smallest darkness. Saints are destroyed by their ecstasy, such exuberance as mine. The cells divide. I squirm in the loam. The cells divide again! My wings! A tiny breath unsettles the dust. Then rupture, metastasis. Metamorphosis in May. Salt Marsh Just a scrap of white silk in the clover. A gentleman will wear a white bow tie after nightfall for the most formal occasions—an inauguration perhaps, or the sinking of an ocean liner. Shall we fly or shall we feed? Think of me fastened at your dead father’s throat. Darling Underwing I’m a broken chip of bark, the skeleton of a leaf, whatever’s left-off and useless, and anyway, Lord, you’re already glutted on the Autumn smoke of burning bodies. Turn your face from me. A loving father won’t spare the rod, but I’m fatherless and past correction. These colors help me hide. Yucca The meanest flower that blows, and day wombed in its underfolds. The thing I've waited my whole life to tell you can now go unsaid. Lowly, lovely, love. Forestall. Wait for me on your side of the morning. For now, a marvel in the meadow: the last light twists on a single petal’s edge. Carolina Sphinx A dying grub. What’s lowlier than pupating inside this desiccated shell? I’m an amputated digit in the dirt, nectarivorous at night. I hover with remarkable stillness above the flowers on headstones—drink those severed currents. All night the dead flutter past your window on thousands of wings. American Dagger So serious, son. A little tact, a little circumspection— try not to head straight for the flame. Eventually it’s the slow burn of aftermath anyway, the occasional return— the play of light, a step in the dance, a certain silly song. As you fly home for Christmas, it’s John Denver and a bag of peanuts, dusk over Colorado, red snow-streaks on the summits. You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply. Webworm I’m coiled deep in the skittery paper-shuffle of communal life. Sententious, my hair parted behind. And though dull as you please— the white hallway, the pleasantries exchanged in the elevator— I’ll wait long enough to lap your blood from a leaf. Coddling The bottom-line: you’ll never come first. The theme is need and I devour. Apple, walnut, pear—O sad suburbia! O grim internia, distant dawn! Who’ll be with us in the round of our need? Who’ll be left to draw the curtains? Who’ll be left to mow the lawn? Common Sheep Who are you that moves among these shades? Aaron, come off it! Here we are at the swamp’s edge, and here are the salmonberries. See the cattails? Pull one from the mud. Wipe the frog-spawn and strip it to the stalk. The root tastes like cucumber. Silver-spotted Ghost I fly unseen through your interstices of expectation. And with no love for the lights of the living. Glimpse me if at all sidelong and streamside at dusk. Then meet me again just past the lines of your own disappearing. Clouded Crimson Night again. Catechisms of unasked questions and ungiven answers. Want death to be the fallacy—and dream? Or the dream to be the fallacy—and death? Refrain. Fall Cankerworm Refrain. At last the marvel and the terror, the wordless You. Be still. The new muscles twitch. The wings scrape at the shell.