Eileen R. Tabios


          sipping tears
          of sleeping birds—

watching moths surfaces the label: "mothing"—

the word
evolves to "mother"—

in certain parts of the world moths are major agricultural pests—

Mario exclaimed
"I hate you!"—

my husband shrugged and notched it (on our clenched fists and hearts) as just another predictable trait in teen evolution—

flowers (like
orphans) need moths

for pollination lest
the species

moths travel a straight line by circling bright lights—

no poem can mitigate
a child's hatred
(even if temporary)—
what little form exists
poetically evaporates—
I am no White Witch moth
boasting of the Lepidopteran's biggest wingspan—
metaphors are impossible
between a mother and child
staring directly at each other

bloody eye to bloodied eye

In 2006 scientists announced
witnessing a species of moth
avidly drinking tears from the eyes
of sleeping birds in Madagascar
To sip, the moths used a fearsome
proboscis shaped like a harpoon

I am forever calling for my son—
he is forever slipping away—

Before becoming a parent
I carelessly stepped on moths—
they always left behind
the same proof of existence:

a smudge
that never survives the night

Moths are mostly nocturnal
with thousands of species
yet to be identified

I see them in Mario's closet
whose door he keeps locked
at night

If etymology is history

is not the Modern English word "moth"
related to the Old English word "maggot"

Is not "Mario" related to all the orphans
left behind left behind left behind

Orphans aging out of the orphanage
often become prostitutes or criminals—

Others become serial killers

Others become serial killers

Others become like moths sipping tears:

Other survivors grow up to adopt other orphans—

they embody the "Golden Rule"
as translated by radically-fecund Gaia

Eileen R. Tabios' most recent books are SILK EGG: Collected Novels (2009-2009) and THE THORN ROSARY: Selected Prose Poems & New (1998-2010). Her manuscript-in-progress is 147 Million Orphans.
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