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Ways to Make a Moth: A Poem

Veronica has poetry and short stories published in several literary journals. She holds an MA in Literature from American University.

Photo by Fyn Kynd, [CC BY 2.0]

Photo by Fyn Kynd, [CC BY 2.0]

Ways to Make a Moth

In cotton folds of grandma musk
find a caterpillar wrapped in fur
fine and short
for dandelion flight
on a black breeze

Find two small moldy leaves
frayed and softened
made of dead Autumn whipped up
in an abbreviated ant tornado
sweeping an empty parking lot

Make wings that flutter
like a drowsy baby laugh
sucking and snorting
choking with mother's milk

Trace an invisible trail
that flowers and dies
like cracks along a white wall
a wanton route to the meaning of pleasure

Find a bulb, blind and burning

Hold it there until you see
a brown that revels in a spectrum
akin to elusive day
bleeding through night's needlework
like a butterfly blaze


"Ways to Make a Moth" was written before I became a Christian. This poem was an experiment, based on my observations of a moth on my living room wall heading towards a lamp, but now I believe it reveals my frustrations during that time: The moth is essentially a butterfly clothed in darkness, searching for the color and light of day. Looking back on it, it seems an apt metaphor for the state I was in - living in darkness, searching for light and life.

Throughout the poem, the moth is not quite alive; shaped by human hands, it is still missing something. But by the end, it finds life by letting the light penetrate it fully, breaking through all the emptiness and darkness.

This poem also appears in my chapbook, At War With the Fireflies.

© 2020 Veronica McDonald

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