A journal of art + literature engaging with nature, culture, the environment & ecology

Nessus Sphinx Moth

Julie Martin, USA

In the middle of June, running

my fingers through the tangled vines

of the potted Calibrochoa,

velvety trumpets of blossoms fanfare

in a cascade of purple-violet-wine petals

that decrescendo into midnight black centers.

Long-stemmed, the tendrils intertwine,

sinuous curls writhe.


As I comb the unruly hair of this daughter I never had,

I explain that pixies tie knots in your hair while you sleep,

whisper incantations in your ears, invite birds to nest.

Constantly working, my fingers twine

through the maze seeking desiccated, shriveled blooms

to snap off, making room for new growth.


One of these deadheads vibrates under my touch

and when I spread it in my hand, I find

chocolate-brown, cinnamon wings,

two bright bands of yellow across the abdomen,

no longer camouflaged amongst spent flowers.

It thrums and vibrates, sending pulsations up my arm

until I am bewitched.


I watch as it rises up, coiling proboscis,

flutter of wings, until all that is left on my palm

is a trace of its longing for nectar.

A poet and a public school teacher, Julie Martin lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her husband and two teenage sons. Her poetry has appeared in Alpha Female Society, In Want of Jasmine, Ancient Paths Literary Journal, The Poetry Super Highway, Pasque Petals and Dreamers Creative Writing. Visit her website here: https://sphinxmothrising.blogspot.com




Two poems by Euginia Tan