Clade Song Banner

Clade Song 13

The Moth

One can be forgiven for thinking the datura plant
has no creature that dares feed upon it, or loves
its pearl-colored blossoms that wheel open
at dusk, throats tipped to the sky—for every part
of the plant is poisonous: to swallow the smallest
fragment is easily fatal, even for a horse, a whole
herd of cattle. No wonder we burn it like a weed,
and deer shun it.  Yet every night, a giant hawkmoth
hovers over the mouth of the flower, unfurls
her long tongue, and threads her way deep
into the nectar pool. The moth remains aloft the entire
time, like a kite tethered to the flower’s star-like
body, borne up by her own humid humming.
Under the rotating moon she drinks, turns
death into flight.






M. Cynthia Cheung is a physician whose writing can be found in The Baltimore Review, RHINO, Salamander, SWWIMTupelo Quarterly and others. She serves as a judge for Baylor College of Medicine’s annual Michael E. DeBakey Medical Student Poetry Awards. Find out more at