No “Death of a Moth”

It’s a slow day today at the WAC program where I work. Fall Break is tomorrow, and many students have already left campus, which means there are no business students currently writing memos or reports.

I’ve been doing some of my own reading (for my exams) in the quiet, isolated office. We are tucked away in the communications wing of the business school, a small office full of dark wood furniture, pictures, and books. We don’t have a window; instead, a large earth-toned quilt adorns one wall, courtesy of artisans from Berea, KY.

So I was suprised to see an insect fluttering around the pages of the book I was holding an hour ago: it was a slender, black bug with silvery white stripes on its furry legs. It buzzed by me ear, alerting me to its presence before it began flying in circles around the top of my book. My reaction? I quickly slammed the book shut, pinning the insect between the pages of a collection entitled Creative Writing in America. When I opened the book again, the insect, though flattened, was still moving, attempting to peel itself off the pages of a Donald Murray essay. I closed and reopened the book one more time; this time, the bug was surrounded by dark brown blood, and on the top left corner of the opposing page sat a Rorshach-inspired blot of brown, red, and black.

In observing a moth as it struggled against death on her windowsill, Virginia Woolf observes, “One’s sympathies, of course, were all on the side of life.” Really?

I finished reading that bloody page and when I turned to the next page, I could see a dark,  shadowy blot, again in the upper left corner, a mark that the next library patron with an interest in Don Murray can intepret when he or she checks out the book.

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I am an associate professor of English and writing center coordinator at Southwestern Oklahoma State University. I teach courses in composition, creative nonfiction, fundamentals of English, and peer tutoring.

Posted in CNF

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