Sunday, April 5, 2009

moth, by ivy alvarez

A new month, a new poem! This one is from the collection mortal by Ivy Alvarez (poem reprinted here with her permission).

Read it again and again. Read it out loud as many times as the people around you will tolerate. Send it to your friends. Think about the words, the sounds, the images. Share your thoughts about it in the comments section of this post, just as though you were sitting around a circle at a "real life" poetry group. Discuss the piece 'til your heart's content. (Next week, we'll offer a prompt based on the discussion.)


pale white body against the glass
wings pressed towards the light

I am a pulse
I cannot stop beating, beating
so drawn to the alien thing

there is no time to care
the light beckons and I am there

call me ephemeral

soon the crickets will sing their cacophony
and the grass will have my dry wings


And don't forget about our collaborative sestina here. Contribute some lines?


Marilyn Zembo Day said...

This is a beautiful, almost delicate poem ("the grass will have my dry wings). When it says, "so drawn to the alien thing," I think how love is like that sometimes-- don't they say opposites attract (yet too much "opposite" is scary and to our detriment)? But there is more to this piece than just these things and I have to ponder it over the week. Beautiful images. Sound too: "beating, beating," "a pulse. You want to read it aloud, but in a whisper.

Linda Jacobs said...

I wasn't thinking of love, well, not love love, but, instead, passion for something. It's the light and our wish to pursue that passion is the moth trying to find a way to get to it. We are attracted like a magnet but sometimes it's so very hard to get there.

And if we don't get there, we end up as dry as the moth wings in the grass.

Anyway, just a few first thoughts. Like Marilyn, I've got to chew on it a bit more.

vmh said...

Surfing over from Ivy.

I like the idea of moving forward to the light, away from the dark. Night, as those white moths do come out at night. The passion of being behind an obstacle, and forever trying. Writer's effort? Beating connotes not only the wings, but a heart, also a violence of effort. All the while knowing the final fate and yet one still tries.

Helen said...

As beautiful as the words are, this poem seems to be about being self-destructive. It's about doing something "alien" knowing full well it will be the end of you.

Perhaps it is metaphorical?

From a Buddhist perspective, it could be our need to continue to believe in our delusions, which are always short-lived. To give them up would be to hear the singing of the universe, and to lose the "dry wings" of samsara.

So perhaps not so destructive after all!

Christine Swint said...

This poem is really beautiful.

The metaphor of the moth to me seems more about the fragility of life. How time is an illusion, and in an instant our wings will fall on the grass.

But whatever it means, it's lovely. I like to see how this poem changes according to the reader. I guess all good poems are open to interpretation.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful lyric poem! I think it is about the impulse of being drawn towards something that you know, somewhere in your body, you shouldn't let yourself have. There is the obvious; the moth being drawn towards the light, as if compelled, knowing that the end is near. And then there is that human aspect of acting compulsively, something we have in common with the moth. I know I can relate to that feeling.

Dave said...

The poem is very good, but I find my appreciation of it inhibited a little by knowledge of the fact that moths are actually not attracted to lights per se. What happens is that bright lights mess with their internal navigation systems: "the moth winging around your kitchen light is doing so more out of confusion than desire." Does it make me horribly pedantic to object to Ivy's poem on these grounds?

Dave said...

I just remembered that the feminist critic Katha Pollitt had a great poem in the New Yorker a few weeks ago, also titled "Moth."

Anonymous said...

"call me ephemeral"

Could the above line from Ivy Alvarez's 'Moth' be an allusion to
Herman Melville's 'Moby Dick' which begins with the line,

"Call me Ishmael."