“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


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 a literature student 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 @RichelleSushil