A huge brown moth the size of my hand, yellow spots on her shoulders,
rested on the peeling windowsill where I needed to be sanding.
She lay flat, at a slight angle to the square lines of the building.

She startled me — though how startling could a moth be, all dust and feathers?
I inspected her as close as I dared, then took a picture with my phone.
But I had to get to work; the old paint under her belly had to come off.

How do you ask a giant moth to leave a shadow for the hot summer skies?
I did not know the formalities.

“Just put your hand under its feet,” my father told me from the ground.
I felt like some ham-fisted churl intruding on the sleep of a nighttime fairy.
But my parents were paying me to scuff off these second-storey windows,
to remove the wear of sun and rain and make them look new and strong.
The moth with her fern-like antennae must go.
So I gingerly brought my fingers to her side.

She jumped.
I jumped.
Dad laughed.

When I looked again, dark blue eyes had opened on her soft wings
and were looking at me, unafraid.

In need of an intercessor, I offered the goddess a cedar shake to ride.
Groggy in the daylight, she missed the cedar, stumbled
and fell
like a brown autumn leaf,
floating down.

She caught the air before she touched the ground
and climbed, jerk by jerk, upward.
She circled a pine tree and entered from the back.

And I turned back to the window, sand-paper in hand,
to grind the peeling paint to dust
in her honor.

Poem by M. Christine Benner Dixon

My name is Christine Benner Dixon. I teach English at the Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh, PA, where I also serve as department chair. My poetry has appeared in DreamSeeker Magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.