Animals: “Last Words” by Richelle Sushil

Like always there is a papery jumble of moths 
on the terrace, fried from the heat 

of our lightbulbs. I sweep them up 
in the morning, careful 

not to fracture their wings.
I am familiar 

with the inelegance of desire. 
Well-versed in its aftermath. 

Often, I mistake streetlights for the moon 
even when they blink.

Knowing something never makes it 
any easier to believe. I read that 

when Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb, 
the moth population took a huge hit. 

The fluorescent artificial glimmer 
was so irresistibly confusing so wonderful so warm it was instant

doom
and isn’t that just the way it goes. 

Call it whatever you want:
bad transverse orientation, distraction, love

they all mean the same thing. 
The moths care nothing for the smell of burning chitin. 

They simply draw closer.
Simply forget what they were meant to do: 

get moth groceries, 
call their mothers, 

they hover, brittle;
inches from the buzzing white blue

minutes away from exhaustion / predation / overheating 
their only thought: it is very beautiful

over there

[Note: ‘It is very beautiful over there’ – Thomas Edison’s last words]

About Richelle Sushil

Richelle Sushil is an Indian-Indonesian poet and literature student from Jakarta, currently pursuing her MA at UCL. Her poetry has recently won the Cosmo Davenport-Hines Prize 2020, and is featured in Wild Court. She tweets @RichelleSushill