Robert Cording

Parable of the Moth

Consider this: a moth flies into a man’s ear

One ordinary evening of unnoticed pleasures.


When the moth beats its wings, all the winds

Of earth gather in his ear, roar like nothing

He has ever heard.  He shakes and shakes

His head, has his wife dig deep into his ear

With a Q-tip, but the roar will not cease.

It seems as if all the doors and windows

Of his house have blown away at once—

The strange play of circumstances over which

He never had control, but which he could ignore

Until the evening disappeared as if he had

Never lived it.  His body no longer

Seems his own; he screams in pain to drown

Out the wind inside his ear, and curses God,

Who, hours ago, was a benign generalization

In a world going along well enough.


On the way to the hospital, his wife stops

The car, tells her husband to get out,

To sit in the grass. There are no car lights,

No streetlights, no moon.  She takes

A flashlight from the glove compartment

And holds it beside his ear and, unbelievably,

The moth flies towards the light.  His eyes

Are wet.  He feels as if he’s suddenly a pilgrim

On the shore of an unexpected world.

When he lies back in the grass, he is a boy

Again.  His wife is shining the flashlight

Into the sky and there is only the silence

He has never heard, and the small road

Of light going somewhere he has never been.




“Parable of the Moth” is from Common Life (CavanKerry Press, 2006).