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Where Moths Dance

by Sylvia Anne Telfer                                                

Dusk falls on Conor Boyle’s wake, calling a shake

of moths to lamppost to dance in wonky rings,

awry yo-yos in moonless night. What weary hobos

with tatty scales, frayed wings and faded hues

in nod to Life’s brevity. In ever-closer circles, lamp’s glow

grows more gorgeous, swells into moon. Sizzling,

spiralling down, and so beneath, a feathery pile’s

gust-brushed into a greyish ‘white clown’, the ‘top banana’

in a circus but also a wreath to Conor. Fragility in Connemara.

High in sky, Silver Y moths alter path in shifting gusts

like Conor had never done when young, angry, political,

sun-sung. Had he grasped he’d never been ‘out there’,

his fixed home, the drumlin just beyond his garden?

Today, his pal, ‘Fat Bren’, from across town saw a

hummingbird hawk moth flown in from far-flung Japan

lock its alien tongue to Cleggan honeysuckle juice

and thought of how radical Conor’s megaphone bawls

in Ulster brogue had boomed into such distance

Conor’s tongue too had become alien despite

its landed inheritance, its being an emerald heirloom.

Twilight. All’s still in the Boyles but under the bed

a rug’s being riddled with holes and wormy rogues

gorge a sheep’s fibre buffet, an à la carte of Conor’s

clothes now in dangle in box room where in silvery-brown,

a webbing clothes moth’s laying rice grain eggs on yet

sweaty socks for Róisín can’t bear to lose Conor’s smell.

She thinks of the morrow, laundry, shopping for one

and how she and Conor had never been blessed with kids.

She thinks of Conor in his last days and of how his skin

had become translucent like cocoons of some moths

before emergence. All this been foreshadowed on that

honeymoon night in Wisconsin when a big, white-bodied moth

with lime green wings, pinkish legs had flown in?

This dancing Death’s-head moth him?

His side of the bed’s cold and she reflects of how long ago,

they’d been singed by sexual passion for each other,

been made tipsy by each other’s smell.

Somehow she, Conor and moths begin to mell.

Conor’s tin whistle glints in moonlight streaming through

window; ‘Conor the Pied-Piper’ Somewhere

someone’s playing Táimse ‘im Chodladh. (I am asleep).

Conor had said it was about the slumbering Irish soul,

that his da, Sean, that strange man from Gortnahoe

who’d been a ‘priest of the past’ had said so.

It’s Conor for sure. No true dying for him and thus

it’s love forging her a night door. Knock-knock-knock

It’s Conor Boyle, O Baoighill, that profusion of green,

that drumlin just beyond their garden,

that Luna moth now flown in.

Copyright Sylvia Anne Telfer 2019

What weary hobos

with tatty scales, frayed wings and faded hues

in nod to Life’s brevity.