I stepped on the moth.
It happened quickly, walking over to the rocking chair barefoot to pack a few things I had left there - a notepad, a pen, a hand towel - and I felt something small and soft beneath my heel. I leaped back and away as soon as I realized what I had done.
I want to think it was already dead. It must have been injured, of course, to have remained in that same spot on the carpet, unmoving for days.
I walked away. I didn’t want to look at it closely, but I forced myself to squat down, put my head close. It was flipped over on its back, all its brown legs bent and broken.
On the ride home, we stop at a record store and in addition to the crates of old records, there are a few racks of used clothing. My daughter slips a polyester halter dress over her t-shirt and shorts and I make approving noises.
We have lunch at a dimly-lit pizza place and we eat with our hands from paper plates beneath a wall of dusty photographs signed by people whose names I don’t know, but they seem familiar, well-worn in the same way that the names of the streets in my childhood neighborhood will drift to mind at times, unbidden. Soft sounds. Warm and rounded on the tongue.
I saw geese walking in the brown grass.
I saw lush fields of alfalfa.
I saw barn after barn. And granary. And water tower.
I saw power lines slicing through the tops of trees.
Tractor and thresher.
Sloping hills. Stagnant ponds clogged with algae.
I saw a stone quarry, bright white. A deep white gash in the earth.
I try to think about the moth like it means something. Like there is some inherent meaning in nearly stepping on the moth, but then not. A certain feeling of relief in not. In catching oneself before the deed is done. And the next day, to so carelessly and thoughtlessly do the very thing that the avoidance of which had so recently brought such slight and fleeting grace. This must mean something, I want to think. But in the end, I fear it does not.
This is just waiting. These words, these attempts. A kind of placeholder for the words that will come, for what may bloom from a few carelessly strewn seeds. It is waiting and it is watching and it is passing time. Wildflowers and weeds. It changes nothing. It leaves everything as it is.
The moth remains dead. The fields of alfalfa in approaching autumn. The stagnant, choked ponds. The gaping holes in the earth.
Such slight and fleeting grace.