Poem of the Week, by Hannah Marshall

Once, doing laundry, I reached into the bottom of the washer to pull out a wet brown sock. But it wasn’t a sock. It was a bat, velvety soft, small, and lifeless. Bats have an affinity for me, at least judging by how many have found their way into the house, and I’ve never killed or wanted to kill one. The shock of that sensation –expecting a sock and holding instead a once-living, once-flying creature, is still with me, like a strange revelation.

The Moth, by Hannah Marshall

Cicadas brush the dark street with wing and tymbal
as I walk in the surprise cool of this July evening.

I open my lips to breathe in deep
and a moth flutters between my teeth, buzzes

on my tongue for just a moment before I choke
in the street, bend and spit.

I do not see it fly away. I feel its wings
on my mouth for hours afterwards, a blessing

of dust not unlike Isiah’s coal, the purifying
burn. The urgency of the moth’s sand-colored body,

its baptism in my spit—I spit and spit
to remove the memory of its soft bristles.

The moth, alone now, staggers toward a fluorescent streetlight
bearing a sticky revelation, teeth and lips,

the knowledge of speech, the warmth
of finding oneself nearly consumed by god,

and yet spared, not by piety or plea,
but by humming, holy revulsion.

For more information about Hannah Marshall, please check out her website.
Words by Winter: my podcast


  1. Laura Hansen · January 29

    Beautiful and astonishing. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • alisonmcghee · January 29

      I feel the same way. So glad you liked it, Laura.


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