Like Flicks of Flame

There’s very little point in keeping
two yellowish red and black wings
from a moth that’s disarrayed one finds
in the grass.  I could have mistaken them
for petals, but I knew what they were,
and when I picked them up the dust
from the wings left smudges on my fingers
as grainy newsprint used to do
when I delivered papers and rolled them
as I went.  When I came home my hands
revealed a blur of backward letters.
The news was senseless.  I liked to visit
an old woman who lived in a room
and had stories from the older time,
and then a priest who lived at the end
of my route.  I believe the doors of Heaven
opened for both of them who are gone
from this world and yet still matter in it.
Now, think about that miracle,
a life that lives beyond the life.
I would like to ask people to do
more good, make something of your lives—
let’s try to be more hopeful and pay
more mind—let’s pay more solemn mind
to the little things someone may find
to be touching in the grass and touch them.

MAURICE MANNING was born and raised in Kentucky, and often writes about the land and culture of his home. Maurice Manning’s first book of poems, Lawrence Booth’s Book of Visions (2001) was chosen by poet and judge W.S. Merwin for the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His subsequent books include A Companion for Owls: Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Lone Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c.(2004), Bucolics (2007), The Common Man (2010), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in poetry, and The Gone and the Going Away (2013). Manning has received fellowships from the Fine Art Work Center in Provincetown and the Guggenheim Foundation. He has taught at DePauw University and Indiana University, and is on faculty in the MFA program at Warren Wilson College and the Sewanee Writing Conference. He is a professor of English at Transylvania University.