Small decrees of dust: A love song with moths

by Sarah-Jane Crowson


The lilacs watched us from the fragrant garden–
heavy and bewildered like a drowning.

That time before the world was boxed
in a whisper before…

before the darted glance, distorted.
Before eyes were moth-wings,
soft as charcoal dust,
like a land that is locked, or lost.


It came to her that she had been alone for so long
that she had become a statue.


She thought of all the worlds she had forgot.
The slip and haste of red clay,
the barefoot wild symmetries
and all those quiet words turning moth
to fly –decay in cold uncertain rooms.
They say the moon is silvered, a metaphor only,
loud and lone and tarnished.
They say I am distracted by wings.

Safe, lost in the dark woods the moths
whispered small decrees of dust –
the kind of truth that splits
fallen branches –ecstatic with decay.
And when she fell, like a twisted root,
they caught around her, uncertain,
uncertain, uneven, impossible

whispers of midnight, our hair unleashed,
rain-drenched, unpinned, unlocked.



This poem accompanies Sarah-Jane’s collage, “Uncertain Objects” – this is part of the series “Discontented objects of terrestrial desire” which can be seen in her portfolio.

Sarah-Jane’s art and poetry is inspired by fairytales, nature and her personal emotional landscape. It is informed by ideas of accidental trespass, surrealism and romanticism. She is an educator at Hereford College of Arts, and a postgraduate researcher at Birmingham City University, investigating ideas of the ‘critical radical rural’. Sarah-Jane’s images an poetry can be seen in various UK and US journals, including The Adroit Journal, Rattle, Waxwing Literary Journal, Petrichor, Sugar House Review and Iron Horse Literary Review. You can find her on Twitter @Sarahjfc, Instagram @Sarah_jfc or on her website at

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