I have lived in Phoenix since 1978 when I moved from Vienna, Austria. Born in Austria, I grew up in Manchester, close to rain and the northern English industrial zone. In my early 20s I went to live in Vienna and from there enjoyed many trips around Europe, often as an artist working in watercolor. My poems have appeared in Slipstream, Skidrow Penthouse, and Poem, among others, and my Selected Poems appeared in 2014 from FutureCycle Press. http://www.davidchorlton.mysite.com
(Modeled on a poem by Eugenio Montale)
Like many memories before it, the moth
appeared as a shock, the size of an open hand
shot out from the forest
until it slapped against the screen.
The rain parted to allow it through
as cloud cover softened
and the orioles made a tentative
return to the oranges set out for them
in that enclosure created as
a sanctuary for the end of every storm.
Two of us sat by an open door
as we listened to the downpour
and marked our places with a bookmark
while the heat that had built all day
was torn apart in seconds as the clock struck three.
Above the cabin roof, a shiver
ran across the sky, and Silver Peak
was washed away.
Then a tarnished gray; it seemed
the air had chosen not
to be transparent, and a rumbling
before lightning speared the ground
through which it rose. In the room
with memorabilia from mining days
a lamp flickered by the bookshelf
as the moth held its place
where it could go no further
and a flash outside sent its shadow
flying between us, while its wings pressed
flat like endpapers
in a volume of secrets.
It had a somber beauty, gold
embroidered on the soft black
texture in the forewings, and fur
on the thorax so fine
it felt warm
to the eye.
It landed with a muffled knock, that
of a gloved hand against a door, eased back
and hit a second time
before it turned away into the remnants
of the wind that first delivered it. Some doves
began to call, finches chattered, and the hummingbirds
whirred back into motion.
The afterimage of the moth remained
inside, colliding with a lampshade, rustling
sheets of paper on the table, and testing
the light at every window
for a space through which to pass
back outside. It moved across
the photographs in frames of those
who lived here years ago, and alighted for a second
on some tools kept on as souvenirs from a time
of black suits, sweat and patient women.
We thought we saw it hovering
for a last time by the wood stove, but
that looked just as if one
of the men had stepped out of his photograph
to fetch a drink of water
from the kitchen before returning
to his place in history.
©2016 David Chorlton
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