The Bogongs

By | 1 February 2020

As a child
I loved the fat moths
at the windows;
the thud against glass
of heavy wingbeats
interrupting lamplit bedtime stories.

Their great journey
was more magical than Santa Claus—
a million magnet-reading migrants
bursting forth
from inland black cutworm
through swirling skies
to the high plains
of caves and possums.

Sometimes in the magpie morning
I would find
a straggler
pulsing its final efforts
in charcoal smudges
against the bricks of the back verandah.

I felt the weight of meat,
the soft powder of disintegration
in my palm.
I could taste the dust
of the distant Darling Downs
sprinkled from silken wings.

For every fallen soul
there seemed a million more
astonishing stories of insect clouds
on sports fields and neon-lit buildings,
blocking ventilation, shorting
forcing Parliament to dim the lights.

This summer,
the back deck is littered
only with dry leaves and dust—
a whisper in the background
gone silent.

Those heavy wingbeats in the night
become bedtime stories
of granite caves
shimmering through summer heat,
and a tiny grief
flutters silently
against my window.

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