Separated by the Wingspan of a Moth (Macaron 2019 prize winner)

This is an excerpt from the 2019 Macaron Prize winner in the category of nonfiction, judged by Sheila Kohler. Learn more about the prize winners and order the print issue at the Cagibi 2019 print issue page.

Cagibi Issue 1 StarsThe moth is blackish-brown, as nondescript as a Tuesday. But it is not a Tuesday, it is a Friday. I see the moth on the windowpane as I’m about to leave for work. I consider opening the window and brushing it out, but we’re running late for school. We pick up our bags, and leave. Outside, the pavements and roads are separated by gutters of gold, leaves that the trees have squandered. My daughter jumps on them, but they don’t crunch. The night’s dew has left them limp. I tug her hand, and we hurry on.

It’s dark by the time I pick her up from the after-school club, a long day. The leaves, now light and crisp, rustle in the wind, lift off the pavement and whirl around our ankles like autumnal dervishes. We chase each other through it, glad our week is dusted off. At home, the moth is still there, in exactly the same spot. I put my bag down, walk towards the window and reach for the latch. My other hand lifts, ready to flap the insect out into the evening. But as the latch loosens and lifts, I see that the moth is not blackish-brown, nor nondescript.

The light of day behind the windowpane has quietened. It reveals details I had not seen before—the moth is charcoal grey, with linen wings. Delicate and strong. Its edges feather out like lace. A moth in mourning clothes, about to attend a funeral. Funerals, which offer their own kind of beauty, dark silhouettes moving with a slow and sad grace, gestures of kindness and condolences bathed in stained-glass light, eulogies echoing under domed ceilings. …

For the full story, order the Cagibi 2019 print issue.

About the Author

Pia Ghosh-Roy grew up in India and now lives in Cambridge, UK. She is the winner of the 2017 Hamlin Garland Award. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Lunch Ticket, CRAFT, Prairie Schooner, The Rumpus, Split Lip, Ambit, Structo, Berfrois, and others. She is currently working on her first novel and a collection of short stories.

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