My Word of the Month poem for July

Hi everyone,

David publicity photo
Two days ago we discovered a large, beautiful moth resting for the day against the stucco wall outside our condo door. I knew it at once to be a Black Witch Moth.

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
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,
in Mexico.

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.

8 comments on “My Word of the Month poem for July

  1. Loved it. It brought back memories when I e-mailed you a couple of years ago about the Cecropia moth cocoon on my Wild Cherry tree. The spiders killed it, but I save the cocoon. Last night I tried to save a Snowberry Clearwing moth. I placed it in a safe place and this morning I didn’t see it. But I did photograph as it enjoyed one of my flowers two days ago. Thanks for refreshing my memory.

  2. My husband’s uncle (in MO) sent me insects found often so I could add them to a collection for students to draw. Here in Colorado I look for the hummingbird moth, who, like other moths, only visits in the evenings, unlike the gay hummingbirds themselves. I love that you were transported back to that time, the pin that “holds as well the magic of the night”. I often see that ‘mistakes’ are the highlights of our lives, like your opening of the window. Thank you David for the story and the poem.

    • Dear Linda,

      Glad you like my time warp journey to my youth. I recently read that many of our most rewarding experiences in life get their beginning with a mistake or misfortune that we need to overcome.

  3. What a beautiful, beautiful poem. Thank you. It captures the sense of mystery that a child feels upon a new discovery — which I happily shared.

  4. David: Thanks for this bowlful of memory! Also, where should we post our relative poems? Should we put them in with WOM?
    Karen

  5. Karen, thank you for the good suggestion. Since I don’t have a page set up for Theme of the Month, let’s just add them to the W.O.M. page. I’ll make the announcement.

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