There is a small moth lying on the side table. Dead of exhaustion I imagine.
It is a cross between a dragon fly and a butterfly in miniature. The wing span is not quite half an inch. I have the luxury of time and opportunity to examine it as the morning sun moves slowly in the living room.
Light, hitting what seems to be just another drab, dead, night-loving bug, reveals a treasure.
Its wings are dark with irregular spots of light tan, about five or six on each I think.
I pick it up and place it in my palm to examine it more closely.
But it keeps flipping on its back, frustrating my efforts. Rigor mortis froze its center of gravity towards the top of its torso so that, as a shuttlecock, it keeps going back to a top down position.
The moth is exceedingly light. I can barely sense it in my hand.
I think that if I weren’t looking at it, I would doubt its reality.
With three pairs of magnifying glasses I am able to explore what is still there.
Layers of burnished copper and brass powder, with barely a hint of red forms what I thought was the tan areas of the wings. The darker surfaces have a matte onyx shade, but the reflections of hematite.
In the sunshine the wings have the subtlety of an ancient, exquisitely worked piece of jewelry. Thousands of powdery facets refract the light in harmonic and dissonant colors so that the whole design vibrates and gains a depth of color and a texture unnoticed by a naked eye.
As I am intently decoding the thin thorax and the cut of the wings, I must be holding my breath.
Unconsciously I exhale. The moth flips over again.
I try to turn it back, but I am clumsy. As my big fingers grasp the tiny legs the wrong way, awkwardly righting it up, the moth seems to escape.
It falls out of my hand and disappears.
The only evidence of its presence is a spattering of shimmering gold powder in the crevices of my palm, somewhere between the life line and the head line.
It’s only a faint trace of the splendid creature that was there.
Few of us leave a hint of beauty behind, even as we struggle to mark our passage with some legacy. We wish to be remembered in an attempt to thwart the inevitable ending of our existence.
Unlike that tiny moth that revealed her beauty beyond life, through the tangible means of matter and light, if we are lucky and somewhat blessed, our beauty may be remembered for the intangible: ideas and words, however we expressed or lived them.
But for most of us, what we leave behind are things that we did not intend and that would be best forgotten.