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I last saw one decades ago.
There were nine or ten that July night
moon-green and big as dinner plates
some affixed to the doorscreen, others hovering
like slow applause at the edge of the sphere of light
cast by the hall lamp. Both drawn and threatened
by what we’ve made to illumine our human way
they were gone by daybreak.
Yesterday morning we found one poised on the lantern.
A tragicomic beauty: his tiny Nosferatu head ironically
without a mouth
the false eyes on his wings meant to scare predators away
could’ve been cigarette burns.
As a child I might have said he looked like the son of a barn swallow
and a cabbage leaf, of a fairy queen and a kite.
Ten years ago, the son of a coat hanger and a movie theater curtain
a golf umbrella and pinking shears
or a jet and a twenty dollar bill.
How long before we liken every natural thing
to its technologic spawn? No singleton, no swarm
just a pixelated image
I once saw of a moth—mild, defiant, and doomed.
Copyright 2017 Leslie McGrath. Originally published in Truth to Power: Writers Respond to the Rhetoric of Hate and Fear, Cutthroat Journal of the Arts. Reprinted by permission of the author.