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Dispatches from a moth invasion
Nature speaks, an original poem about listening
I was in Mongolia. Teaching English as a second language, north of the Gobi desert.
A moth migration was taking place and it fell in earnest upon the capital city of Ulaanbaatar.
I was in a dry and dusty region where I taught my summer students, virtually moth-free.
The grey-winged invadersbypassed Bayankhongor, the little town south and west of the capital that was my summer outpost, in favour of the big city.
While I missed the brunt of it, when I returned to UB, there were traces of the creatures.
Disembodied wings tumbleweeding down abandoned streets. Cocoons like so many cotton balls in cloth curtains. Stories of the plague from colleagues who witnessed it day and night.
Tales of lighting candles and seeing the insects dive headlong into flame.
Perhaps I'm remembering these insect stories because it's August again (when I had my adventure those years ago) and there's a cycle to these things: memory, migration, Mongolia.
Perhaps it's because I'm on vacation and intentionally outdoors, absorbing the solitude and surprise of the natural world.
Whatever the reason, I'm more attuned, listening. And am reminded of a poem I wrote from Mongolia walking dry riverbeds, hearing the whispers of wings on the far reaches of the world.
So I wanted to share the poem with you.
nature speaks the earth grows a voice in me I am older for hearing it “learn the lesson of the moth seek light” nature speaks I ask it questions “learn the lesson of the shell listen” nature speaks words are not an obstacle it walks through them “learn the lesson of the beast bear your burden” nature speaks it consoles me “learn the lesson of the eagle fly” nature speaks it wastes no time in words “learn the lesson of the seed die”
Thanks for indulging my nostalgia.
Whatever outpost you're stationed at this August, I hope you can seek out some moments of solitude and surprise.
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This article is from a later time, but gives a sense of how invasive and overwhelming the moths can be to a region.