P O E M   I N   W H I C H   T H E   S P H I N X   M O T H

B Y   M A D E L E I N E   W A T T E N B E R G   

​​H E R M E N E U T I C   C H A O S   J O U R N A L

I S   A G A I N   M I S T A K E N   F O R   A   H U M M I N G B I R D 

Madeleine Wattenberg is an MFA candidate in poetry at George Mason University. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Mid-American Review, Muzzle Magazine, Ninth Letter, and Guernica. She serves as assistant blog editor for So to Speak: a feminist journal of language and art and writes reviews for The Bind. She begins her PhD in Creative Writing at University of Cincinnati this fall.

Because damp from re-
riddling the body; because hover and split
tongued; because side-step,

and this new form-
ula might contain a new answer. Once horned, now
pulsing fluid; 

where the utter-
ance invades the pollen, and a long tubed tongue
reaches the nectar. 

Because the body
conforms to need—one foot, two footed, three.
The riddle changes

because the body
must ask its questions before it’s too late for inquiry
and wing

thickens to wing.
But the moth heart runs the length of your body
and the morning 

eye rises jaundiced 
and bright over the flower lid, so you drink
while the predator

catches his breath.