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Memento Mori by Annette Dekker

Memento Mori

Clinging to antediluvian violet granite

at the foot of the Terry Fox memorial

in Thunder Bay

a magnificent hand-sized moth

captures my curiosity.

It’s immobile—like the lonely bronze above.

Is it dead? Alive? What genus is it?

To discern its taxonomy without disturbance

I capture serenity on camera.

Maroon costal margins frame

gossamer pistachio-green wings

each flaunting eyespots

mocking Maybelline make-up

burgundy lids, blue liner and lemon iris

definitely predator deterring

peach feathered antennae fashion

exquisite mesmeric finery

a tinge of maroon borders long yellow tails

their split ends proffer

designer acoustic camouflage.

“Spotting a Luna moth is rare!

And significant! Expect change!”

my octogenarian mystical friend opines

—wittily—as we road-trip across Canada

moving her closer to family in Squamish.

Can a namesake of the moon goddess Luna

—apotheosis of metamorphosis herself—

actually be a harbinger of transformation?

After eating leaves as well as each

exoskeleton of five larval molts

the Luna larva spins a silk cocoon

—her pupa home for months.

Finally emerging, her glorious

wings appear and dry within hours

allowing nocturnal flight

to a cedar, birch or hickory tree

where she waits, mates,

then deposits two hundred descendents


under a leaf or two.

Reproduction complete she rests.

So… I wonder….

What does Luna’s memorable manifestation

on the monument to Canada’s

iconic marathoner

resolutely transforming

throbbing hobbled steps

into a cause for hope

even while anticipating death,


Sagacious seer Luna is not.

Waiting serenely to breathe her last

within just ten days of her emergence,

Luna’s ephemeral splendor evokes awe


and for this ardent grandmother

—a disconcerting envy.

I rarely rest readily

yet on brutal pain-filled days

when exhaustion reigns

and serenity recedes

brevity beckons persuasively.


Luna’s embodiment of transformation,

the tranquility and transience

of her open resting wings,

revive my resolve

to pursue each brief day’s brave offering

of sanguinity—in ease—and in suffering.

I aspire to realize equanimity

long before my descendants deposit

the ashes of my by-then-tattered wings

at the foot of a paper bark birch

a memorial along the Grand River

where the wind blows

where it will.

Existence exacts surrender

to metamorphosis

bidden—or not.

Memento Vivere

(photo credit: Violet Lark Chin-Douma)


Nov 08, 2023

I loved reading this Annette. Congratulations!


Nov 05, 2023

Tears at your ability to capture the magnitude of the life cycle...and it's immediate and intense beauty. Nia'wen for your words and for sharing your world in this poem


Nov 04, 2023

Congratulations Annette! Thank you for this peace filled metaphor for all life. Very encouraging for my journey!


Nov 04, 2023

Oh! This is beautiful Annette. I felt a sense of serenity, slowly, as I read it.

Thanks ❤


Nov 03, 2023


Wonderful, beautiful, poignant and touching. So touching!

from an octogenarian

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