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The Moth

Vernon Scannell

'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

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