My mind skipped back in time. I was 13 or so and had recently taken to bowling. On a trip to Mexico with my parents, we stayed in Mexico City in a hotel that had a bowling alley. My dad and I decided to bowl a couple of games.
I was soon distracted by wings in the night and the soft noises of insects bumping against a window. Collecting insects was my passion. When I looked out and saw dozens of moths fluttering around the light streaming from the bowling alley, I was entranced. Some of those moths were enormous! Giving in to impulse, I opened the window.
The bowling alley manager headed for the window on the run, yelling excitedly about letting in all the bugs. My father was mortified. I was in heaven as I gathered up several specimens as quickly as possible. Included in the night’s take were several Black Witch Moths.
I still have those beautiful moths in my collection. I haven’t added anything in the past sixty years but I still pause often to admire the beauty, albeit rather bedraggled these days, of my collection. You can see why it wasn’t such a big hop from a moth in the hallway in Florida to my moment in a Mexican bowling alley! Anyway, here’s the poem it inspired.
BLACK WITCH MOTH
David L. Harrison
Moth on the wall outside my door,
you startle me with your stillness,
transport me by some moth-witch telepathy.
I’m a boy again,
in a bowling alley,
Your fore-moth 60 generations removed
(Or is it 600?) (Or could it be you?)
teases me at the window.
I crank it open eagerly
as one will welcome
a rare and desirable guest.
That guest still rests on its pin of honor,
wing to wing with Latin cousins,
its beauty preserved in my collection
for all to see.
For me the pin holds as well
the magic of the night,
the red-faced proprietor
swatting buggy intruders,
muttering at me,
my father’s eye-rolls and heavy sighs,
my once in a lifetime evening.
I forget what I bowled.