Transverse Orientation

Transverse Orientation


To watch moths as a pastime is known as mothing.

Nothing is known about what makes one inclined to mother

or less inclined to that sort of glow

curio. Moth-er with

— unexpectedly —

the short O of body

rather than the O Oh of that longer load

zooming in on the veining

on the cleaving husk

the processionary male

you knew you know

before their moth-hood is realized

some of the worm-states don’t even face

the slog of cocooning just dig

into the ground and stay there until it’s all over.

Cooing toddlering plod. The codling

moth is only one named species among

tens of thousands that might have been mothered,

among the what-might-as-well-be-billions yet to be described.

Corn borers. Bullworms. The Invasive Gypsy moth.

Those sorts are boxed as bothers but it’s a misnomer

that all moths pest. Many have no mouths

and do not eat at all never mind clothes. Those

that do

favour finely chopped white mulberry leaves.

No one scorns the silk-makers though

as long as they issue forth good thread

from the tiny holes in their jaws.

A trait worth buoying. It seems

a pseudoscience that such finery could yield

from their drab powder forms. It would be a crime

not to foster it. Better to spew a fother of silken filaments

which can be carted off and bathed in troughs of luke

warm water (serving to soften the gum binding

so that the wombs can be unraveled and streamlined

to a skein of raw product) better that

than to spew out their own attributes or the quirks

of their run-of-the-mill species.


Why all this mothing, the spinning

round and round? There is a theory

it has something to do with the moon

that by keeping a regular angular relationship

with a luminous celestial body

moths can fly straight as bootlaces. The light

will always be above the skyline—looming.

Planets are so obvious, a loss of bearing would easily be corrected

they speculate.

But here. How to forge away—skirt an orbit?

She circles this screen       this page       this energy-saving bulb

closer and closer

spiralling in on the ultrasonic incidence

! plummets now !

a reflex as all this falls past her horizon.

Is it over?

Is this the moon?

Mothers usually sleep this time of day.


Caoilinn Hughes


Caoilinn Hughes' poetry collection, Gathering Evidence (Carcanet Press 2014), won the Irish Times Shine/Strong Award and the Patrick Kavanagh Award and was shortlisted for four other prizes. Poems have appeared in POETRY, Best British Poetry, Best NZ Poems, Poetry Ireland: The Rising Generation, BBC Radio 3 and elsewhere. Her debut novel, Orchid & the Wasp, which has been excerpted in Tin House, will be published by Hogarth (U.S.), Oneworld (U.K.) and Les Éditions Bourgois (France) in 2018.