K. E. Allen

Wake-Robin


There it goes again
a lone luna moth
cloudy diffidence of yellow-green

grand eye disrupting the porch-light.
Bleached wings that open, close
like a day lily, the flowers framing

the tabernacle in church.
Wake-robins, we called them
my mother hated their sweet pale scent.

How her mind sometimes
veered—a sideshow
needle-topped syringe of insulin

poised as sharp as light above her arm—
thoughts waver in
and out of focus.

Punch it true—
thinking to myself, now—
words bat at the moth

like a worn dish towel;
old repetitions
are a comfort.

The moth darts and turns
flits at the electric
fixture, zip zip

zip
goes the light
a winging shroud
descends, not a butterfly

but a gewgaw, monstrous, pinned
under glass—wheeling windows
stained cerulean, green.

A bird rises white—
a moth,
perhaps. Above a man

kneeling in flames.  And then
some words, the priest murmured
sanctus, sanctus

and I remember how I rose
then fell within the tide
of his voice, I have forgotten

how I answered,
was it salvé, sanity,
our lady of the sea?

A word thrown in the face
of extinction
that's what this moth is

a charm against the brightness
of forgetting, I can taste the meat
of moth propulsion, how the left brain

powers you awake—the right—
a lake lapping against your dreams
all that's hidden, fragile

strength.  She flew from silence
to words, to babble in the frantic air
I watched her recede and then

advance from some dark interior
her face a lake disturbed.
I thought, I can no longer stay

then followed her—she never saw
the water glinting, never
two faces refracting—

I took her hand carefully, casually—
it was a day as usual—too cold
my mother said you are a spy and for once

I knew she was right.
I held her hand.
Said, here, now, you're home.

There's a moth
it burns and I
can't sleep she said

my body's trying
to kill me why
won't the birds stop

scattering seeds
they have spilled them
all on the ground

None of this matters
I'm thinking now
not bird, moth, lily

not even a human heart.
Everything has an end.
The world rises

it falls away
the wake-robins
are breaking ground.

What calls them back
into the air—into daylight—
wings punching glass—

 

* * * 

Poem originally appeared in Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts. Reprinted with the permission of the author. All Rights Reserved. 

 

 

 

 
 

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