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Moth and Rat

January 5, 2008

Moth and rat
both gnawed holes in what was,
desperate appetite

that left
all garments holey. Moth and rat
knew no limit, would not

make a split
the dainty and the container

meant to contain it.
Sweat, blood,
cashmere, vicuña, alpaca,

fine Italian wool —
omnivorous and multicultural
were moth and rat.

If you would steel
yourself against incursion
tooth and claw, bore and bezel —

if you would live
as metal, robot skin
impervious to dust or fission,

well, you must find
that route alone.
Even bone’s permeable

and my skin
pitted with beings
trying to get out or in,

leaving their stingers, cursed,
blessed, in my flesh
till I am dressed

in the milkweed cloth
they have left me,
tit for tat:

sucking my sweetness
as I sucked the fat
dew and honey, the sap,

grass blades
where the sky showed through.
Filigree’s my map.

And what they did for me
I can do for you —
rat and moth, moth and rat.

by Monica Raymond

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  1. January 5, 2008 at 11:00 am

    and my skin
    pitted with beings
    trying to get out or in,

    this really is nice writing.! I think the milkweed image too made me sort of sit up and take notice.

  2. January 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    there’s this counterpoint in moth and rat, one with wings and the other with sharp teeth, and how they get into our lives. i love the musical quality and the imageries are haunting and beautiful.

  3. January 8, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Bonta told me I had to read this, and he was right. Terrific poem. Thank you. I love how slyly the rhymes work around.

  4. Scott Ruescher
    January 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Good stuff, Monica. Sinewy and sinuous. Marianne Moore would be happy -and so would Ratso Rizzo. – Scott R.

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