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Threnody for a Moth

by Stephen Lewis, Published in Nebo, Volume 5, Number 1

Like rusty water from an old tap, 
they swirl their wings 
into a stream that splashes 
against my study window. 
But I remember one 
sculpted on a patio chair, 
iridescent white 
and the texture of down. 
Only one pest, 
of a thousand, 
I thought, 
and flicked the wing aside. 
The shell peeled 
from the larval mass, 
as neatly as an orange skin 
uncovers the pulp. 
But this chrysalis 
had found a place 
where the living color 
could blanch, 
the moist membrane 
dry as sere 
as parchment, 
the graceful form 
remain to mask 
the inchoate shape 
until I broke the cycle, 
like a heel 
that avoids pavement cracks 
but steps long 
to crush the back 
of an ant.