Uncle Gordon and Aunt Mary waving
in our rearview mirror. Dad now hours
behind the wheel. Mom up front
while my brother and I share leg space
in the back. We shut our books, surrender
to the twilight-magnified sky, the muggy summer air.
When the curve of earth vanishes
and the nightfall ceilings us, predictably
they arrive—the scale-winged insects
drawn to light like humans to love.
A bump, bump against the beam
of headlights. Then splat, splat
against the barrier of windshield,
and as if a sudden storm,
the moths are like snowflakes in a blizzard.
White and gray gauzy wings spiral
from their thumb-sized bodies.
They churn in the air as our speeding car
splices the darkness with a harsh
wash of manmade light. An unforgiving hurling.
What is now a mural of moths,
likely thousands, like protons,
lurch and throttle until a mash
shuts out the light.
My father slows to the side of the road.
A rag ready under the seat, he steps out
to clean glass surfaces, crusted
with broken limbs, mouthparts, and underwings.
With each forceful swipe, the lights
break brighter, shining in the moth-cluttered
distance behind him, haunting the night.
They’re wretches akin to rust, my mother says.
They’ll eat your clothes, even your books.
And, all at once, I am startled by my sadness,
at their price of existence,
drawn to what extinguishes them.
Now, after just two generations,
moth snowstorms are gone.
Yvonne Higgins Leach is the author of Another Autumn (WordTech Editions, 2014). After earning a Master of Fine Arts from Eastern Washington University, she spent decades balancing a career in communications and public relations, raising a family, and pursuing her love of writing poetry. She is now a full-time poet splitting her time between Spokane and Vashon Island, Washington. For more information, visit yvonnehigginsleach.com