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By Craig Arnold

Your first thought when the light snaps on and the black wings

             clatter about the kitchen       is a bat


the clear part of  your mind considers rabies       the other part

             does not consider       knows only to startle


and cower away from the slap of  its wings       though it is soon

             clearly not a bat but a moth       and harmless


still you are shy of it       it clings to the hood of the stove

             not black but brown       its orange eyes sparkle


like televisions       its leg  joints are large enough to count

             how could you kill it       where would you hide the body


a creature so solid must have room for a soul

            and if  this is so       why not in a creature


half  its size       or half its size again       and so on

             down to the ants       clearly it must be saved


caught in a shopping bag and rushed to the front door

             afraid to crush it       feeling the plastic rattle


loosened into the night air       it batters the porch light

             throwing fitful shadows around the landing


That was a really big moth       is all you can say to the doorman

             who has watched your whole performance with a smile


the half-compassion and half-horror we feel for the creatures

             we want not to hurt       and prefer not to touch


Source: Poetry (October 2013)

Poet Bio

Craig Arnold earned his BA in English from Yale University and his PhD in creative writing from the University of Utah. In 2009, Arnold traveled to Japan to research volcanoes for a planned book of poetry. In May of that year, he disappeared while hiking on the island of Kuchinoerabujima. In the New York Times, the poet David Orr mourned the loss of Arnold, but noted it would “be a mistake to think of him as a writer silenced before his prime… His shelf space may be smaller than one would wish, but he earned every bit of it.”

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