I slowed to look at a strange insect latched to the screen of the back porch: Butterfly? Moth? A lepidoptera I had never seen before. I took a picture, bringing the screen close and closer, trying to catch the gray, stick-like body. What did the wings look like? What pattern? I went outside to take another picture, looking from the outside in.
But outside—nothing. I saw neither moth, nor butterfly, nor span of wings, only a dried leaf clinging to the screen as if the wind had tucked it there. A leaf? The eye sees what it wants to see, or what it’s given to see. And being a practical poet, the Large Maple Spanworm knew how to construct a metaphor. What is a body or a life, after all, but a fallen leaf, a bit of mulch at best or dust eventually.
The Large Maple Spanworm stayed perfectly still, with its wings flared, persuading me (easily) that it was only a leaf, something for the rain or wind to sweep away. I could feel its judgment: When have you ever paid close attention? Even now, you think form, shape, color, and movement count for identity, mean you understand, mean that you have seen things as they are. Prochoerodes lineolo seems to laugh at my poor understanding, that I can’t see, despite this brief lesson, that dying, death itself, is only another camouflage, deception.