Table of Contents



Kim Parko


A whisper in my midnight inhale. An echo from my exhale floats the pillow. It is as if another breathes inside me. Another's breath expands a phantom lung in me. Puts out oxygen to the organ's converters. They convert dark to moth. The moth is housed above my pelvis. Now it's behind the pivot in my throat, the joint of my slowly turning head. Now it crawls the annals of my brain. Flits the channels of my intestines. Now it is a rag. A holy gray tatter. A profanity. Now it seeps as my body seeps. Cries its own tears. My weeping apparition. A stranger. A twin. I try to catch it with my first breath, the fledgling. Feathers still wet. My old breath, my innate breath, barley stirs leaves. And the breath of my great grandmother blows over fields under suburbs. Her cattle are chewing in the pasture. Her chickens will eat most scraps. Old bones self-clean in shallow graves. The rooster pulls his cry from moon's last breath.


The moths are nutrients to the bears, she'd read. The bears eat them in the high mountains. The moth larvae feasted on the crops in the agricultural zone. The moths, on their journey, stop midway to the bears. Rise up in unison from her desert yard. Collect at thresholds to be released to the dawn. Catch light on their wings. One man's pest is another woman's magic, her grandma used to say. Or she says this for her grandma. A reclaiming. The grandma left school, had her first boy at 16, held him in a crocheted blanket, baptized him in the church. The granddaughter stood in the yard, watched the little bodies searching out the moon. All day, the thrashers had gathered them up in their curved beaks. More protein than elk, she'd also read. They'd fit thorough door cracks at night to find bulbs to collide with. They were gray-brown and their wings flaked to flour. She'd find them in the mornings stilled in the bathroom sink.


The moths died in the home, in the dark, under chair cushions. The ants came for their bodies, claiming them mouthful by mouthful. The military planes flew over us. I told her, Don't worry, they don't carry bombs in times of peace. I told her, too sweetly, These are times of peace. Her pupils dilated or expanded, I'm not sure I remember correctly, but they changed with the lower register of alarm. I held her to me for a minute in my flimsy arms—castaways from my trunk. They could have been large white worms circling her. Every single bit of the moths was consumed, except for a filagree of tubular veins—the scaffolding that once nourished the wings.


Her wings like mirrors. They open and close against the current. Sometimes glide. They reflect the night that rises above, that is always on the lip of the horizon. I wash the windows. Fifty years of fingerprints, cobwebs, rain splatter, bird collisions, windswept light. The shades rolled high. The morning filters through tree leaves outside. I wash the windows with a sore elbow. A hard shoulder. A leak from my throat. The house is home to many cracks, multiple entrances. Ants stream in determined lines. Cobwebs festoon the corners. Mice squeak tiny dreams. Who is to say what is small? A microbe builds an empire. The night window becomes a reflection. Is there a remedy for gravity? I leave my face in the glass for her. She'll recognize me in due time. 


Another moon had suddenly appeared. She took the place of the old one. She was slightly plumper. I too had gained weight. The new food came in boxes, wrapped in plastic. The garden weakened. The next night, another moon came, slightly brighter than the old one. I could see her mountain ridges and deep, dry pockets. The moon spit moths down on my yard. They aimlessly filled the rooms of my house. They flew at me or balked. They roosted in the highest corners. The next night, a new moon hid behind the mulberry tree. I called to her to take the moths back. Her curved beak peeked from branches. A laugh. The coyotes answered in the hills. I went inside. The moths nibbled my ears, pulled my loose hairs behind them like banners. They landed on my eyelashes. Another night brought another moon. The crags of her face. The shadows of her time. She sang, low and tremulous. The moths flocked to windows. Battered themselves against the glass. I swelled in dimension. The garden receded to nothing. The moon cried, as did the coyotes, as did the birds in sleep. I woke in pain: an ancient loss roused from a dream. I went out, round in my nightgown glowing in crescents. Covered in moths. I rose to fill the hole in the night sky.




haunt of the future/past