There’s another moth across the street. Smaller wings, less glow. She played in the orchestra last year, but she flew away from our eight-chambered honeycomb to some dimmer flame, where she got her wings chewed up nasty by a closet rat. Now she’s back in the hive (her parents’ apartment across the street), practicing.
The sound comes like glacial calving, like an electric storm – I can’t predict or grab my earmuffs fast enough to protect my well-tuned ears from the wretched squalls of her bow. Those fiddle strings start howling the second we sit down to brunch, or as I begin my nighttime toilette. What’s worse is, I can hear her getting better.
Not good enough to perch with us the angels, the butterflies – of course not. But with her little cheese-hole wings she’s rising. It’s a cluttered heaving dance, she angles for the top of the beaker that holds her inside a pressurized tube. Like a carnival game she hits the notes, hammers più dolce every time, until I sense she will elevate high enough to break the surface. I’m not sure what shrapnel will come. I don’t know why I worry.
This morning as my family and I sat down to herbed omelettes a resounding treble came bounding to our windowsill, flatulating off the sidewalk like a rubber ball that wouldn’t whistle flat, shrieking augmented fourths that resolved like wet butterflies finally lifting off into the mist of a d minor chord over a dogwood-tipped carpet.
Nothing has changed, really. She’s still terrible. But I could tell my parents were reading in the raising of my cheekbones this strange new thought, plain as an open gut-string ringing in a granite hall: I want to travel to that place and make it better, if only for the sake of showing her how dark and dull her cavernous test tube is. If my healing fingertips can grasp the slender neck of that violin, if my compass-bearing voice can rope her in the right direction to catapult herself into the sky, then maybe she will fall back to earth and reenter our eight-chambered hive. Then she won’t flutter outside on accidental dusky notes anymore. After all, if nothing else, weak bodies serve the colony well in times of desperate hunger. Her undertones reek of wild honey.
Image credits in order of appearance:
By Morris, Ray F – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/20502221072/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/butterfliesmoths00morr/#page/n326/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42295175
By Julian.szulc (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
By Edgar Degas – The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=150046