Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Moth on a summer night
By Jennifer O'Grady

Adrift in the liberating, late light
of August, delicate, frivolous,
they make their way to my front porch
and flutter near the glassed-in bulb,
translucent as a thought suddenly
wondered aloud, illumining the air
that's thick with honeysuckle and dusk.
You and I are doing our best
at conversation, keeping it light, steering clear
of what we'd like to say.
You leave, and the night becomes
cluttered with moths, some tattered,
their dumbly curious filaments
startling against my cheek. How quickly,
instinctively, I brush them away.
Dazed, they cling to the outer darkness
like pale reminders of ourselves.
Others seem to want so desperately
to get inside. Months later, I'll find
the woolens, snug in their resting places,
full of missing pieces.

Moth in a New Hampshire morning

Jennifer O'Grady
This delicate poem is originally from Poetry. I discovered it this morning from the Writer's Almanac's daily newsletter.  You can follow the link and hear the poem read aloud by Garrison Keillor - or read it aloud yourself.  It fills the mouth like a good wine - delightful, complex on the tongue, with a lovely long finish.  And if you read it aloud yourself, or to someone near you, you'll find yourself drifting back to it in days to come. 

Jennifer O'Grady is a graduate of the Columbia University Writer's program and the author of the volume of poetry ~ White, published by Mid-List Press and available through Amazon.  She describes the poems in the following way:

It occurred to me from something Mark said that we do not see colors (even as basic a color as white) in the same way. This realization impacted my experience of marriage and gave rise to my book's title poem. The attempt to come to terms with this fundamental and unalterable difference of perspective as it inhabits and shapes the most intimate of human relationships is a theme that runs through White. Stylistically, the poems of White are expressed through single-voice narrative as well as verse that juxtaposes two or more voices or texts to convey a divided and ambivalent consciousness. More that what is said in a poem, I am interested in what is not said, the pauses and silences, the space that flows around lines and between stanzas. It is within that space that much of our communication is made palpable, and the boundaries between self and other are illuminated. 

The two lovely images come from the design blog Hunters and Gatherers, whose mission is to 
...hunt for precious finds. Objects that represent timeless beauty and tell stories of time and place, taste and utility, integrity and influence. We're passionate about expanding our visual vocabulary and gather indigenous palettes, textures and forms that provide us with inspiration and application for our everyday lives.

Of the photos of moths, they say, 
There are many memories that surface on warm summer nights in New Hampshire- memories of camp with the smell of campfires, countless stars in an inky night sky and moths scraping the screens and shadowing the porch lights. We have what seem like a trillion of them in NH and one seems more beautiful than the next in the light of morning. 
I think this speaks to what Jennifer was reaching for in her poem also.  Other poems of Jennifer O'Grady's on the web are Illuminated Page (Poetry), and How to Clean Practically Anything, (Poetry Daily, originally from Southwest Review).  I hope you enjoy ~  

(used with permission of the author)


Sir Quentin Rossmore said...

Superb poem -- and very interesting what she writes in the quoted passage about what is "not said." The poem also seems to be about things that are left unsaid.

jf said...

Nice, even though it really is about moths, not generally poetic to me. The photos add a sweetness to the mood.