Luna Moth

luna mothTen years ago this month, my husband and I were fortunate to lay claim to a home in Martha’s Vineyard. Not that the island had not already laid claim to me over the previous fifteen or more years that we had travelled there with family and friends.  But the act of committing time and resources to a place that always beckoned me like the steady wash of waves over beach stones, was a pivotal moment for us, both courageous and full of expectation.

The first afternoon that we stepped across that threshold, the deed to our home in hand, I made a pot of green tea for us to share. I had carried a small green iron tea pot from Atlanta for the occasion. On its surface floated two dragonflies, a symbol of new beginnings. The ritual of pouring that tea and sipping it on the porch marked the beginning of a magical time that was especially evident in the  weeks  that followed as I focused on getting the house ready for the arrival of family and friends and children’s friends the next month. It seems that everything that I needed appeared without effort. The basement was full of treasures.  There were garden tools in the shed, the kitchen well stocked with pots and pans and the previous family had left me a complete set of dishes.

French lilacs bloomed at the bedroom deck and there was a small basket that I used to carry them home to Atlanta for my mother. Another friend volunteered to drive our kayaks up to the Vineyard from Chapel Hill. The sister of a friend from Atlanta helped me find painters and carpet layers and repairmen so that less than six weeks after we bought the house, it was furnished, freshened and open for the first wave of family and guests. Anyone who knows the pace of the island and the difficulty in finding tradesmen to help in the late spring just before the season begins could not help but wonder how it all got done.

Days ahead brought more surprises, but it was one evening on a full moon night in early June that I first saw a luna moth. Its fluttering, almost ghostly movement caught my eyes as I sat in our living room.  It landed on the shingle siding on our porch. I was so taken by its sudden and magical appearance, a creature previously unknown to me that I wrote a poem.  Last month in Chapel Hill, I saw at my front door another luna moth. It was the first time I had ever seen one there and its unexpected visitation  brought instant delight and the sweet remembrance of that night ten years ago.


Actias Luna (Luna moth)*


Floating on green gossamer wings

I thought she must be

a magical fairy creature

half expecting

a lithe Tinkerbell body

folded in those fluttering capes

and a mouth that spoke my name.


I wanted to know from what world she hailed

what message in her jagged flight

what she knew of moonlight

and underworld kingdoms.


I wanted to know how she could exist

without my knowing

until now.


*Previously published in Vineyard Poets, An Anthology of Poems by Martha's Vineyard Writers, edited by Julie Kimball


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