Papillon de nuit d’amour

Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back. (Or often the converse in my work.) A bedazzled moth risks venturing a bit too close to the flame again… only to discover, lo and behold, that it still burns, as it always will. Some things you just can’t alter; you can pretend that you might be able to, but you shouldn’t waste your time, energy and good will trying. And a moth’s gentle wings are too ineffectual against flames. So much for the Butterfly Effect. Stay clear.

My flat (or apartment, if you prefer the estate agent weasel-tongued terminology) has double French doors opening out onto a pretty useless balcony. Useless, in that it is standing room only, insufficient for chairs, and certainly not spacious enough for stringing up my idea of bliss – a hammock. Above these doors, I have a double curtain pole (solid nickel, no less!): I still haven’t got round to getting the main drapes (one day at a time), but the smaller pole suspends a pair of off-white, muslin curtains. With summer here, I like to draw these with the doors open, the breeze stroking the quartz and porcelain chimes also hanging from the poles. Why? Because I am developing an inkling for a new, partly Nabokov-influenced pursuit. No, not writing (dream on, Turnpenny). Lepidoptery. I figure light-attracted moths will adorn my bland diaphanous adornments (Yeeeuch! Yeah – dream on). It’s not been too successful as yet, but the other week this handsome fella found its way in and settled down very quickly onto one of the CD shelves.

When I looked closer, it wasn’t white, but this beautiful pale blue. I’ve not found out what species it is yet (the photo is not too clear, but can anyone enlighten?). Funnily enough, it didn’t seem too interested in getting any nearer to the hot light. (Sensible fella. Nocturnality also means it avoids encountering magpies, another bonus.). And it was easy to catch and, as you can see, was quite comfortable on my hand. I contemplated imprisoning it and taking it into work for an overdose of chloroform before pinning it to a corkboard. (Is that how it’s done? I haven’t sussed this out yet.)

But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I briefly (sillily) felt a connection with this fellow appreciator of fine pheromones. My soppy anthropomorphisation momentarily deemed it ‘cute’, and kidded that, while I had it in the palm of my hand, it trusted me. Which felt good. It’s a consequential thing, trust.

And then I threw it off the balcony for bat-bait.

5 responses to “Papillon de nuit d’amour

  1. You know, Nabokov got to name a butterfly. I forget what it was now, but it was large and blue. Maybe you can name this one! Just for your own use, if for no one else’s :) Don’t think Nabokov’s hand ever trembled with the pin though. The guy was prolific with the pinning.

  2. Henry – thanks; that could provide plenty of (occasionally essential) distraction.
    Anna – consulting my copy of Speak, Memory: you refer to Plebejus (Lysandra) cormion Nabokov. However, check out this. He was a polym*o*th (sorry, that can’t be an original joke, can it?).

  3. Wow, I guess I was a little off. He named 50 million butterflies, not just the one. Polymoth indeed :)

  4. Thanks to consequences, I MUST comment with GREAT GRATITUDE for the FREEDOM you bestowed upon the mighty winged ONE.


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