Drawn to the light

At night in the forest in Tikal
        when it rained, clouds of termites
took shelter in our huts : we had
        only candlelight and the insects
blinded by its heartless beauty swirled
        around the flaming wicks

Some of these frail creatures
        with their long thin paper wings
were instantly singed, and dropped
        helplessly onto the table
while others self-immolating
        were burnt almost to a cinder
as they smothered
        the murderous flame

and in the darkness
        in the silence, the dense
whirling cloud flew off
        leaving the charred remains
of their dead in the cold
        congealed wax

John Lyons


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