Back to Issue Twenty-Three.

To the Cecropia Moth



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.
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.


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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