Cecropia Moth

The giant silk moth has no mouth.
He doesn’t eat.
He sleeps most days.
He flies in for a few weeks:
his only purpose is to mate
(and yeah, I knew a guy like that
in college, too),
beating his big-winged beauty
like a paper heart against the doorjamb,
the dried-blood-red of those massive wings,
the eyes inset,
the cracked grin of a voodoo god
painted on,
saying “Stay away!”
in the old tongue:
you wouldn’t want this death.

But for all that,
for his disguise,
his single-minded fasting of a saint,
they get him anyway.

I went inside to grab a tape measure
when I discovered one last Saturday,
but he was gone when I got back —
the scrub-jays on the roof perhaps,
or the Bullock’s oriole.

All they left on the deck
was a wing the size of a toddler’s hand,
thin as a five dollar bill.

I slipped it in my wallet
between my license
and a coffee shop punch card,
knowing there’s a chance
we’ll wake up one morning
in a world where quiet grace
is currency.
I pull it out sometimes,
unspent, and stare,
my eye and his
unseeing voodoo eye.

Strange Birds

In the summer we sat out by the reservoir
and watched the water shrink.
The city sent us notices
about leafy spurge and spotted knapweed.

Sometimes we mowed lawn,
picked apples, Elberta peaches;
canned some, saw the rest rot,
the grass to our knees, the driveway clear.

Hummingbirds stopped by —
and jays, cowbirds, and robins —
so many even I, fifty years, tired of them,

remembered the old Indian
who taught me to bury birds
so I could dig them up
stripped of feather and skin
and learn their bones.

But not a word about the season

how when the cold came
they had all moved on,
and now, just the prints
of deer and foxes in the snow.

So starting out this morning
I disturbed you shaking in a branch
and only heard the sound that you made leaving.
Something I had never heard before:

a cry the snow the pines.