Conversation with a Suffolk Moth
The moth's belly is plump and soft and if I reach with my finger, I imagine that I will break through it as though it were a ghost. I tell it that in a high school biology class many years ago I heard that moths' and butterflies' average lifespans are somewhere between eight and nine months. "That's only as long as I was in the womb."
"Yes, and weren't you happier then? Birth is the very first trauma that we experience."
"I guess you're right. I couldn't have known sadness in the womb. But at least I've had time to experience everything that I've experienced. Traumatic or not. Don't you worry that you haven't got enough time to understand the world?"
"I've seen a lot already. Last week, I saw a little girl drop her ice cream cone and scream out in glee when a stray dog approached to lap it up. I drank the dew from the leaf of a rosebush. I saw you yesterday make love to your other and eat citrus fried with your fingers afterwards. I understand."
"Humans live an average of eighty years in most parts of the world."
"That is a long time to be a human being."
The moth rests on the leaf of a houseplant who's genus I've long forgotten. She is green with long, veiny stems that are thick and strong and hold up all of the life coming from them as if that were no work at all. When the moth opens and closes its wings, the plant does not even shake.
Liah Paterson is an Interlochen Alumni as well as a long-time member of the Nosebleed Club writing collective. She has been awarded the Scholastic silver key in prose and has been published in Rookie Magazine. She is twenty, from New Jersey, and sticks her fingers regularly with embroidery needles.