'The moth has got into it.'
I heard the woman speak from another room.
What the moth had entered I did not know
Nor why that singular creature should own
The definite article before its name.
The woman said, 'The moth', as she might say
'The dog', a minor member of the family,
Yet in my mind's commodious bestiary
There was no space for such a stray.
I knew that it was time for me to go.
I crept away. I left some clothes:
A sweater, vest, two pairs of socks with holes.
Sometimes I think of the moth in its cage,
Its great khaki wings heavy with dust
And the woman feeding it, pushing through the bars
The woollen garments to assuage
An appetite that must
Make do with such rough food, as she, too, must.
From Poetry Review, Vol. 59 no. 4, Winter 1968/9
Copyrighted work reproduced from Collected Poems of Vernon Scannell 1950-1993 (Faber) with kind permission of the Estate of Vernon Scannell