The man who invented moths
had never seen a butterfly
until the day he invented moths.
That day, it was the musky smoke that hung,
like one dim bulb, one gap round the doorframe,
it was the butterfly swept apart the fog
with bright leaf shell,
crumpled, the fur cloak of a hunter.
Man found the bright disguise a lie
and so he made the moth,
which doesn’t disguise itself
but disguises everything into itself.
One moth, the Tineola bisselliella,
he set to devour clothes,
the hanging brown threads of moth wings
patterned like galaxies of dirt,
and her friend the Bombyx mori
to build the dregs back up to silky garments,
soothing cocoons for men to hide
and he raised every worm, writhing,
in his caged mouth, where some of them learnt
to feed on his tongue and the juices of old food,
the Aglossa cuprina,
and had to confine in the shed.
And so existed the moth and the man
till he pushed open his mothers door
to find a room doused in lavender,
cold like a fridge or a jar, choked,
and, unwarded, a single moth nestling
in the chipped paint skin of her face,
the big Grease Moth and the larvae,
picking through her lavender cheek
He moved but the neighbours heard
how they followed him, after the funeral,
and afterwards how he left his windows open
in the night for them to rest, twitching,
in the warmth.