On Finding an Unfamiliar Undergarment in the Back of Your Closet



n. [Old English, from mowtze]. 1. An insect, maggot. 2. Any variety of destructive or parasitic invertebrates. Worms, pests, etc. 3. Sometimes known as lice, causing an intolerable pain in the intestines.4. Small, nocturnal creatures that attack fabric or wood. 5. One who mouths. 6. A window with no glass. 7. A piece of raw story, with a sprig of parsley on top. 8. To wear a knife. 9. Distinct from butterflies (in most cases) by flat wings, antennae that are not clubbed, and drab coloring. 10. Any kind of vicious, lacy undertaking. 11. To secretly follow, airborne and silent. 12. I would like to know her name. 13. I would like to know whether the underside of her jaw is as tender as mine. 14. I would like to be walking down the street and meet her accidentally. 15. She would fall for me so completely that she’d forget to eat or sleep. 16. Her insides would flutter and kick at the sight of me. 17. You would have no chance to win her back – not if you begged me on all fours. 18. The undergarment has holes in it. 19. There are hundreds of holes. 20. Perhaps it was a pencil, perhaps something sharper. 21. Gypsy moth, turnip moth, death moth with skull and crossbones on their backs. 22. Something that eats away, wastes or diminishes (wealth, happiness, etc.) gradually and silently, at great expense. 23. That which you will have unlawfully gotten, known as a moth in your estates, will devour. 24. An excuse for misbehavior, i.e the moth did it; the fault of the moth. 25. You can try to wrap your memories in camphor, but moths will still get in. 26. A person who is insignificant or fragile, or who hovers around temptation and is liable to be drawn to destruction.

Also: a. moth-face: white and tremulous. b. mothwort: a poisonous herb. c. moth hour: the moment you realize I’m stronger than you thought.

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Beth sherman

received an MFA in creative writing from Queens College, where she teaches in the English department. Her fiction has been published in The Portland ReviewKYSO, Black Fox Literary MagazineSandy River ReviewBlue Lyra ReviewGloom CupboardPanoplyzine,  Delmarva Review3Elements ReviewSinkhole, Rappahannock Review, and Compose Journal and is forthcoming in Sou’wester. Sherman is also a Pushcart nominee and has written five mystery novels.