She (at least I think that she’s a she) is a surprise my friend J. leaves outside my apartment door in a nylon mesh cage so that I can set her free from my balcony. Outside, she poses for her picture, then flutters off into the trees like a tiny, maroon silk kite to find a mate.
Is there any better summer present than this?
To even try to describe the terrible voltage of
those pheromonesemitted in pulses
plagiarizing the human heartbeat’s blank iambic
a few hours before dawnwould be to fully understand
raw need, desire’s soft dank underbelly.
To think of it as merely perfume, would be too pretty
a dilution, like using the word droplet when one meant
ocean,, or saying could when one meant must.
(Though sometimes I think perfume is all about just this lack
a faint Xerox, simulated mimicking of silk moth
courtship practices, Calvin Klein models
thin puppets in a shadow playbecause isn’t desire
what we desire to desire most of all?) Just imagine
how stunted our senses are when compared
to the male Cecropia moth, who can feel the scented
calling of female Cecropias from over a mile
away, who if smell were sight and puffs of
pheromones smoke signals, could pick out a teaspoon of dye
randomly dropped in the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon.
His antennae hear the scent like drumbeats,
like the hot siren glitz of electricity sizzling
the nervous system awake until the body is transformed
into an incandescent singing hum
that flies alight, weightless without the burden of too much
thinking. The Cecropias are hatching outside tonight.
They awaken, stir, and unfurl themselves
into the mild dark air through loose valves in their tough cocoons.
Painstakingly, they inflate damp crumpled wings into taut
bright kites tattooed in rich burgundies, browns,
decorative scallops, eyespots, and red thumbnail crescents.
In the dark, they find each other. Velvet bodies grapple,
nocturnal and strange, but very gentle.
Once, I lived in rooms with light switches to nowhere. Sometimes
I turned them on and off at night to see if anyone
would answer: shouts of surprised annoyance
from the neighbors, maybe a soft knocking at my window.
Once, I spent an entire summer sleeping with my front door
unlocked, convinced that through sheer force of will
I could make him recognize this silent keening, and come.