Back to Issue Twenty-Three.

To the CecRopia Moth

BY COURTNEY FLERLAGE

A cecropia moth caterpillar, which hitched a ride from Ontario to St. Johns in a shipment of dogwood shrubs, has turned into a spectacular moth . . . agricultural staff are hoping to keep Georgina as calm as possible during her short life to preserve the quality of her wings . . . she will be pinned and preserved for future study. 
—CBC News Online, May 31, 2013

Of all the ways to be wanted,
this coarse longing forward: kill jar,
steel pin. Ripe & mateless,

how pretty your plush wings would look
in a glass case. Absolve me of this: silly girl,
I thought two hours in ether

would be enough for life to leave a beetle
before I pinned his thorax. Later that day
I found him alive, wings snapping,
legs grasping at air.
                                Georgina, I’m afraid
I have a sharpness in me. Once, a luna moth fell
under a mower blade—rendered flightless,
eyespots halved. I kept him though he woke

me at night, splintered wings rustling while I slept.
I’m always trying to tell the story of your moth-mouth—
by nature, sealed. Restless.
                                          Lonely?
I wasn’t. Turn away, a boy said summers ago
as he tried to name the stars to me—car headlights across the field
would slash my sight for the constellations.

I looked anyway, &, flash-blind, I watched the dark sky flare.
Georgina, see these hands like wingshafts stunted? This spine,
its rigid memory? I don’t have patience for the body.

 

 

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Courtney Flerlage received her MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Ninth LetterPoetry NorthwestCrab Orchard ReviewDay OneArkansas Review: A Journal of Delta StudiesWritten RiverAlabama Literary ReviewGhost Ocean, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2017 Indiana Review Half-K Prize.

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