Mary Oliver and “Great Moth”

“Moth and Moon” – Onion flower husks on wool

Her work has touched so many of us, lovers of the natural world and seekers of things unseen. Here, I join the chorus of thanks since her death. Mary Oliver, your life invited more life in ours. We’re lucky it still sings out in your poems.

This poem partially inspired my healing practice name. I love how it points to mystery in the mundane, to magic and possibility.

Great Moth Comes from His Papery Cage

Gone is the worm, that tunnel body. Gone is the mouth
that loved leaves and tomatoes.
Gone are the innumerable feet.

He is beautiful now, and shivers into the air
as if he has always known how,
who crawled and crawled, all summer.
He has wide wings, with a flare at the bottom.
The moon excites him. The heat of the night excites him.

But, where did the dance come from?
Surely not out of a simple winter’s sleep.
Surely it’s more than ambition, this new architecture!
What could it be, that does it?

Let me look closer, and a long time, the next time
I see green-blooded worm crawling and curling
hot day after hot day
among the leaves and the smooth, proud tomatoes.

Mary Oliver, from her book Thirst


All images © 2019 Morgan Vogel Chinnock

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