Vampire Moth – by David B. Prather

—Calyptra thalictri

Immortality came to me at an early age
as a late-night movie, infused into my blood
by superstitious moonlight. It never occurred to me
a dead leaf could resurrect as a moth,
take sustenance from the living. Then,
a predator clamped her kiss
upon my ten-year-old neck, left a welt
upon my throat. She told me I would live forever
if I told no one what had happened. She said

I would grow into everlasting life, that decades
would pass before the sun could sear my skin.
I would cocoon in a cloak of change, then emerge
to eternity. One word of my transformation,
she’d come back and tear out my throat.

I always wanted to live endlessly
among the gods, even those who only sang at night
those who could only find their way by starlight
and moonlight. How was I to know this moth existed,
hiding all day on the bare skin of branches
where shadows lean away from the blessing of day?
How was I to know that darkness is deeper
than I ever imagined, taking in all that ever was
and ever shall be, even as it flutters for light.

David PratherDavid B. Prather is the author of We Were Birds. His poetry and reviews have appeared in several print and online publications, including Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Potomac Review, Cutthroat, Cutleaf, Sheila-Na-Gig, etc. He studied acting at the National Shakespeare Conservatory, and he studied writing at Warren Wilson College.