This entry is part 27 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


Lymantriidae: family of moths, many of its component species referred to as Tussock moths; Lymantria means “defiler”.

Before Todos los Santos, the Day
of the Dead, armed with whitewash,
buckets, and brooms we visit
the graves of our dearly departed,

to clear the gathered debris of
the previous year— dry leaves
and bracken pushing up through
cracked concrete, bits of amber-

colored glass from broken Cerveza
bottles. Someone’s grand-
father’s grave has been spray-painted
with graffiti; and the stone cherubs’

wings have been chipped for sport.
What do we know of eternity? What
could we do to stave off the hardening
froth of days? In the groves of trees,

above rows of headstones, cicadas rub
their tymbals and sing their heated songs
of courtship. Two months later, all of them
will die, leaving behind eggs that will emerge

in seventeen years. Among the skeletal branches,
the tussock moth caterpillar is busily at work.
For every mouthful of leaf, a tufted crown; red-
light glands on its back signaling imminent

danger: dazzling mystery: inevitable conclusion.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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4 Replies to “Defiler”


    Has anyone come back from this defiled form
    and mapped out ways to get back to that eternity
    we claim as heirs to, where days are as chartless
    as the river stream that must flow to an endless,
    ceaseless fountainhead which has no beginning?
    There is no other way back except by destruction.

    When every rampart has been carted away, we
    do not pine for them like those we cannot lose
    because we store them in vaults of our memory:
    they are our milestones of an afterlife we choose
    to build from achieved desires, fulfilled dreams–
    these chambers of a heart that will not crumble.

    What, indeed, do we know of eternity? Save this:
    We are never away from it. Until memory fades.

    —Albert B. Casuga

  2. Oh, dear, we needed that one for the Insecta issue! Death, defiling, and insects: would have gone very well…

    And now I dash away again, trying to hit that deadline and failing… Shall have to come catch up with the Dave-and-Luisa shenanigans later in the week.

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