Monday, March 11, 2013

Moths by Eavan Boland

My favorite Moonflower and Sphinx Moth photo taken after a rain one evening in 2007 on a hot summer night.  I spent hours (days---my entire life!!) stalking this moth and got ate up by mosquitoes in the process.  And yes, 'ate up' is correct grammar in regard to mosquitoes chewing you to pieces here in the South.

By Eavan Boland

Tonight the air smells of cut grass.
Apples rust on the branches.  Already summer is
a place mislaid between expectation and memory.

This has been a summer for moths.
Their moment of truth comes well after dark.
Then they reveal themselves at our window-
ledges and sills as a pinpoint.  A glimmer.

The books I look up about them are full of legends:
ghost-swift moths with their dancing assemblies at dusk.
Their courtship swarms.  How some kinds may steer by the moon.

The moon is up.  The back windows are wide open.
Mid-July fills the neighborhood.  I stand by the hedge.

Once again they are near the windowsill---
fluttering past he fuscia and the lavender,
which is knee-high, and too blue to warn them

they will fall down without knowing how
or why what they steered by became, suddenly,
what they crackled and burned around.  They will perish---

I am perishing---on the edge and at the threshold of
the moment all nature fears and tends towards:

the stealing of the light.  Ingenious facsimile.

And the kitchen bulb which beckons them makes
my child’s shadow longer than my own.

 From:  “New Collected Poems” by Eavan Boland, pages 220, 221

(Thank you, dear Erin, for mentioning Eavan Boland to me not long ago.  I went and found 5 used books of her amazing poetry.  Once again, you feed me.)


In winter, rabid gardeners such as myself read seed catalogues and books about gardening.  My latest favorite gardening book is “The Evening Garden, Flowers and Fragrance from Dusk Till Dawn” by Peter Loewer.  I learned, to my surprise, that of the order Lepidoptera, to which moths and butterflies belong, there are over 11,230 species and only some 800 of these are butterflies. The rest are moths.  I have been an avid night-blooming flower grower for over 20 years (my Moonflower seeds are already planted, sprouted and have two leaves on them) and am well-acquainted with moths.  I just had no idea they outnumbered butterflies by that much.  Also, night-blooming flowers smell like heaven...they have a much stronger scent that day-blooming flowers in order to attract the moths.

Here’s the conundrum I have about loving moths, especially the gorgeous Sphinx Moth, which I especially enjoy stalking and photographing:  one of their favorite meal is tomatoes---every part of the plant.  I also grow tomatoes religiously.  So, as soon as I learned this little tidbit about tomatoes being moth caviar, I began growing some extra (is there such a thing????) tomatoes for the caterpillars to devour.  I know, crazy, right?  But I’m happy to share my bounty.  And crazy runs in my family. 
It's almost Spring.  Do a little happy dance and plant some flower seeds.  (I found my first packet of Moonflower seeds at Wal-Mart quite by accident.  The flowers go to seed in the fall and now I have my own supply of seeds.)  I highly recommend that you grow Moonflowers, if only to have one whiff of their scent before you die... It's sweeter than Magnolias or even Jasmine. They're a member of the Morning Glory family and do well in pots.   You just have to keep the seeds extra wet until they sprout.  I've grown them in pots and in the ground and I prefer pots.  They need part shade here in the hot South, but can do well with full sun further north.  And they need a fence or trellis to climb. 

Happy March. 

"To be overcome by the fragrance of flowers is a delectable form of defeat." ~Beverly Nichols


"Perfumes are the feelings of flowers, and as the human heart, imagining itself alone and unwatched, feels most deeply in the night-time, so seems it as if the flowers, in musing modesty, await the mantling evening....~Heinrich Heine


"The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks." ~Tennessee Williams



BamaTrav said...

Yup, there are gonna be some sort of new skeeter that has a "painful" bite that are bigger than the ones he already have. They blew in last year in Florida with a Hurricane. Painful they say!!!

poietes said...

I love, love Eavan Boland. Thanks for posting this poem.

Kelly said...

I can't see moonflowers without thinking of you, Marion. I'll never forget the beautiful specimens I grew from your seeds! I'm headed to WalMart this morning, so I think I'll pick up a package and try them again. They do smell heavenly!!

Ben Ditty said...

I missed your flowers and poetry, Marion. Glad to be back :-)

erin said...

ok, remind me, moonflowers it is when we move, whenever that might finally be. as for now all thoughts of flowers, moths and even mosquitoes are so alien to me. it's still been in the
-20's C lately at its coldest and that's pretty darned cold. (and hell fire, you can say any darned thing you want about mosquitoes when they's abiting you:)

eavan boland's poem...holy hell! it put me right dab smack in that house of ours in indiana in july. that's the kind of power she has, to defy even governments. i wonder, will we have moths there? will the screen door open and smack closed to easily behind us, in front of us, always?

beautiful sharing, marion. i can't believe your world.))