You Said You Were Born to be a Writer

In that life, you were a moth –

 

nothing pretty like those lime green luna moths

with their tapered wingtips and twisted tails and mouths 

that somewhere along the way ceased to exist. No – 

 

you were a brown moth, you said. An American dagger moth,

wings dripping with rows of thin black blades, mouth

left hanging open to swallow and spit out words.

 

No moth is ever born to be a moth

though you said you were. Maybe you just believed

you weren’t born to do anything else – your moth-hood

 

was merely imitation passion pushed into absence like grout,

left to fill the hollows between tiles made of prematurely cracked cocoons

and left sticky with caterpillar soup – enzymes left over, 

 

you explained, from larvae unable to ever finish digesting

themselves. In that life, you were funny in a way that made people

sorry for you. You ventured that a chrysalis cracked in two before a caterpillar

could finish its self-dinner was not unlike a chicken egg cracked in two –

 

but instead of a puddle of thick, translucent egg goop,

a day 13 embryo curved like an overcooked shrimp plops 

onto the buttered pan, and blood and amniotic fluid begin

to hiss and bubble in the heat –

 

and this, you rambled, is like the caterpillar 

(don’t forget this is about a caterpillar, you said,

the caterpillar that was always supposed to become a moth)

 

in that it is the complete opposite or maybe just dissimilar

and this must’ve been the moment you looked around and saw mouths

open and tasted sour pity in the air – except you never did notice,

 

at least not in that life. Deep down, I thought you must’ve known

that a moth is only alive to create more of itself. Writers always know,

right – that they are the real story, which is why when our 36 months

 

came to an end, you said to me none of it mattered,

it was all nonsense and when I asked why – why

 

none of it mattered, even after the soup and the chicken

and the egg and the shrimp and the caterpillar

(don’t forget this is about a caterpillar, I pleaded,

the caterpillar that was always supposed to become a moth),

 

you said it’s because the metaphor was always too obscure,

anyway.

 

By Eileen Ellis

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