Jacqueline Henry




I’m at the picnic table—working through pages of hurt—
when I see my muse hanging on
the table’s lip.

I don’t dare touch her. Two eggs, lime green, cling to her bottom
unwilling to dislodge. Her wings look like fall leaves, camouflaged
brown even though it’s summer, with two pink and black “eyes”
that seem to want to—but can’t—blink.

She clutches the wood, squeezing. More eggs now. Still clinging.
Her front legs fold as if kneeling in prayer. The eye-wings stare
with knowing.


She’s the sign I’d asked for this morning, in my own kneeling.
When I first entered the yard with my tears, I noticed her
on the deck— so easily she could have died, stepped on
by me or the dogs. But something said: Stop. Pay attention.

I picked off a green leaf from the Bradford Pear and scooped her 
onto the table so I could watch the births and write.

My pen paused after flowing. I found her
detached from the leaf—the breeze perhaps, or by
her own volition. A sticky substance remained and with it,
one of her eggs, a tiny green tear, torn from the pack.


There are four eggs now, and my lady’s wings are stretched like
she wants to fly, but I think maybe this is pain, that final push.
Needing the full space she can occupy to create.

I give myself that space, and that grace, knowing
my energy needs transforming from the frenetic darkness of
morning—a mourning of love, of a once-life in a darkness that
feels like burn.


She shifts her body, wings pasted to each other, the bulge of eggs
growing. I count six: six eggs, six gelled spheres.

What’s in me that I sit and watch a moth lay eggs?
God tells me to sit and see, and I listen. But what do I learn?
That we all have pain? We all labor?

This moth, my muse, my lady, will fly away and not give this moment
another thought. She will leave her creation to stretch in the sun,
be eaten or learn how to be alive, either way a transmutation.

What do I need to learn?
Her back faces me. I get up to find her true face. Not
the wing eyes but her true eyes—how they bulge like beacons
that morph into that third way of looking and seeing.
That one eye.