Moth Funeral

April 28, 2008
By Christine Stoddard, Arlington, VA

My mother never dusts the house. Mangled insects, from withered ants to twisted flies, encrust the windowsills. Cobwebs line the ceiling and spiders live in the bookshelves. In fact, there are so many bugs roaming our halls that by age six, I knew enough about creepy-crawlies to become a certified entomologist. I never asked my parents for a dog---not with all of the pets I had.

Today, I am burying a moth I found. He died last night while I was sleeping. I remember when he first entered the house two days ago when Dad left the screen door open. The moth flew in crookedly, flapping his left wing extra hard to compensate for the weak fluttering of right side. Dad warned me that the moth wouldn’t live much longer, but I caught the creature and brought him to my room, anyway, hoping that my love and care would be enough to heal him. I placed the little moth on a blue yogurt lid, underneath of my desk lamp.

“You’ll get better soon,” I assured the injured bug. I introduced him to one of my millipede friends and played him a couple of tunes form my harmonica. Each note whistled more poignantly than I had intended. But even with such imminent death, it was a fun evening.

I had to go to school the next day but when I returned, I took the moth outside with me and read a couple of magazines. And, like I said earlier, he died last night, while I was sleeping. I never even named him. He passed away unchristened.

Today, I am burying him. I chose a peaceful spot underneath a birch tree in my backyard because the birch bark is the same color as the moth’s wings: desert gray with flecks of rusty red.

When I had buried bugs in the past, I always wrapped them in leaves first to protect them from the elements but I left this moth naked because I didn’t want to constrict his wings. I wanted him to fly freely in the afterlife. I played a melancholy piece on the harmonica---this time fully intentioned---, uttered a few kind words, and then dug a hole with a twig.

“Bye, moth,” I whispered. I dropped him into the hole and smoothed a thin layer of soil over his body.

Maybe I’ll find another moth on the windowsill tomorrow.

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This article has 1 comment.

SJ_ink said...
on Aug. 23 2010 at 11:00 am
SJ_ink, Eagan, Minnesota
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I found this surprisingly intriguing. First of all, the title is perfect. And you had a great first paragraph that drew me into the story. Most times, I never read past the first paragraph because it doesn't pull me in. Bravo!

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