Windows thrown open in vain –

indoors and out

the same breathless density of heat

(nightfall bringing no relief) and then


the moths came-


flattening themselves on walls and ceilings

like notes on a bulletin board, like poems

intent on being read.


Buff Ermine, Blood Vein, Ruby Tiger –

insect aristocrats

in their silks and satins

and powdered furs;


Rosy Footman, Carpet Moth –

priests of the night, their dusty vestments

looped and veined with glyphs.


I stalked the house with a camera, snapping

with journalistic fervour,


the alien invasion.


Grass Emerald, Clouded Silver – names

I scarcely knew at the time but would soon track down,

poring over colour-plates, comparing;


Oak Eggar, Magpie, Lime-speck Pug –

neighbours who call to introduce themselves

and are never seen again.


They’re out there now

on buddleia and broom –

on ragwort, sorrel and dock –

in that parallel universe

we call the night – each one

silent as a ghost – but believed in


having once been seen.



© Anthony Watts