‘Parable of the Moth’, by Robert Cording

Consider this: a moth flies into a man’s ear
One ordinary evening of unnoticed pleasures.

When the moth beats its wings, all the winds
Of earth gather in his ear, roar like nothing
He has ever heard. He shakes and shakes
His head, has his wife dig deep into his ear
With a Q-tip, but the roar will not cease.
It seems as if all the doors and windows
Of his house have blown away at once—
The strange play of circumstances over which
He never had control, but which he could ignore
Until the evening disappeared as if he had
Never lived it. His body no longer
Seems his own; he screams in pain to drown
Out the wind inside his ear, and curses God,
Who, hours ago, was a benign generalization
In a world going along well enough.

On the way to the hospital, his wife stops
The car, tells her husband to get out,
To sit in the grass. There are no car lights,
No streetlights, no moon. She takes
A flashlight from the glove compartment
And holds it beside his ear and, unbelievably,
The moth flies towards the light. His eyes
Are wet. He feels as if he’s suddenly a pilgrim
On the shore of an unexpected world.
When he lies back in the grass, he is a boy
Again. His wife is shining the flashlight
Into the sky and there is only the silence
He has never heard, and the small road
Of light going somewhere he has never been.

– Robert Cording, Common Life: Poems (Fort Lee: CavanKerry Press, 2006), 29–30.


  1. What a delightful poem… I am building up a list of books to look for when in Grand Rapids


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