* the unignorable with Aimee Nezhukumatathil

* unignoring one another *
* unignoring one another *

Some things are unignorable.

For example, moths seem to be unignorable in my writing.  They’ve crept in and out of my poems for years now.  Experiencing moth season in Albuquerque, New Mexico only increased the fascination.

The bumbling after direction and light – yeah, I get that.

They are a symbol of fragility and persistence for me.  In this way, they are all that more human to me.

Human fragility and persistence are also unignorable.  Reading the poem below by Aimee Nezhukumatathil brought this lesson home.  While the world of the poem is a dark one, the lyric never loses sight of the human factor.  Through the final image, the fragility and persistence of the moth is made kindred to human predicament and struggle.  This poem itself was unignorable.


Two Moths – Aimee Nezhukumatathil* 

Some girls        on the other side of this planet

will never know        the loveliness

of   walking      in a crepe silk sari.      Instead,

they will spend        their days                          on their backs

for a parade               of   men           who could be       their uncles

in another life.         These girls memorize

each slight wobble                  of   fan blade as it cuts

through the stale       tea air and auto-rickshaw

exhaust,        thick as egg curry.

Men         shove greasy rupees        at the door

for one hour         in a room

with a twelve-year-old.                One hour —               One hour —

One hour.            And if   she cries afterward,

her older sister       will cover it up.         Will rim

the waterline             of   her eyes                 with kohl pencil

until it looks like                        two silk moths

have stopped      to rest       on her exquisite     face.


Happy mothing!


* published in Poetry November 2013

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