Poem | The Moth

There is one now,

on the screen door,

his chalky wings a blur,

wanting in, wanting in.

A neighbor arrives,

headlights and the thump of a car door.

The voices slip through the geometry of lights

thrown down by front windows and a few words

break through more clearly than others,

as we smell the hint of a cigarette.

 

This warm weather begins at dawn,

and lasts long after sundown.

We fought against it,

sitting beside the air conditioner all day,

but now we have this quiet vigil,

nothing more to be done.

 

Everything is open,

the windows, the front door

with its screened darkness.

When a dog passes

we hear the tinkle of its collar tags.

 

Above the old orange tree in the garden

the silhouette of the mountain rises up and then the stars

and the satellites take over. The tiny points that move

look exactly like the ones that don’t,

silence followed by silence.

 

The moth climbs, flies in place,

and climbs yet more.

We sit quiet, and the house around us

is still, and of all the living things he

is the most urgent, restlessly on his way

with the earth toward morning.

Published in the November 15, 2013 issue: 
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Michael Cadnum has published nearly forty books, including the National Book Award Finalist novel The Book of the Lion. His most recent book of poetry, Kingdom, includes many poems that first appeared in Commonweal. He is working on a new book of poems, The Promised Rain. He lives in Albany, California.

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