Meghan O'Rourke

Meditations on a Moth

How splendid yellow is. —Vincent Van Gogh

My poor eye. It has done
so much looking-at the sky, at the dark-fretted
trumpets in the frescoes of the Chrysler Building,
at the opium dens of “High and Low,”
where bodies sway like white flowers-
amount due, amount due.
Is the blue the blue you think of when I tell you?
Do ghosts have neuroses?
What is the point of the haunting they do?
Here-look. No, look.
I am trying to rid myself of myself;
to see past the tumbling clouds.
All evening drums rumble in the corner park.
The mobsters convene when the cops leave.
What goes down stays down,
the street at three AM a fantastic absence of color.
Outside the studio window
a river slides along its dulcimer bed,
aquifers and accordions and Alcatraz.
But you have to get up in the morning.
The brute blind glare of snow in sun.
Look again, and up you may rise
to something quite surprising in the distance.



“Meditations on a Moth” is from Halflife (W. W. Norton, 2007).