B H Fairchild
Thermoregulation in Winter Moths
How do the winter moths survive when other moths die? What enables them to avoid freezing as they rest, and what makes it possible for them to fly -- and so to seek food and mates -- in the cold?
Bernd Heinrich, Scientific American
1. The Himalayas
The room lies there, immaculate, bone light
on white walls, shell-pink carpet, and pale, too,
are the wrists and hands of professors gathered
in the outer hall where behind darkness
and a mirror they can observe unseen.
They were told: high in the Himalayas
Buddhist monks thrive in sub-zero cold
far too harsh for human life. Suspended
in the deep grace of meditation, they raise
their body heat and do not freeze to death.
So five Tibetan monks have been flown
to Cambridge and the basement of Reed Hall.
They sit now with crossed legs and slight smiles,
and white sheets lap over their shoulders
like enfolded wings. The sheets are wet,
and drops of water trickle down the monks'
bare backs. The professors wait patiently
but with the widened eyes of fathers
watching new babies in hospital cribs.
Their aluminum clipboards rest gently
in their laps, their pens are poised,
and in a well-lit room in Cambridge
five Tibetan monks sit under heavy wet sheets
and steam begins to rise from their shoulders.
2. Burn Ward
My friend speaks haltingly, the syllables freezing
against the night air because the nurse's story
still possesses him, the ease with which she tended
patients so lost in pain, so mangled, scarred, and
abandoned in some arctic zone of uncharted suffering
that strangers stumbling onto the ward might
cry out, rushing back to a world where the very air
did not grieve flesh. Empathy was impossible,
he said. A kind of fog or frozen lake lay between her
and the patient, far away. Empathy was an insult,
to look into the eyes of the consumed and pretend,
I know. It must have been this lake, this vast
glacial plain that she would never cross, where
the patient waved in the blue-gray distance,
alone and trembling the way winter moths tremble
to warm themselves, while she stood, also alone
and freezing, on the other side, it must have been
this unbearable cold that made her drive straight home
one day, sit down cross-legged in the center of
and empty garage, pour the gasoline on like a balm,
and calmly strike a match like someone starting
a winter fire, or lost and searching in the frozen dark.
B H Fairchild's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Thermoregulation in Winter Moths by B H Fairchild )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821)
(7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919)
(13 September 1916 – 23 November 1990)
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- To an Athlete Dying Young, Alfred Edward Housman
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- A Song About Myself, John Keats
- Death is Nothing at All, Henry Scott Holland
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- Bright Star, John Keats
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- "Why do I love" You, Sir?, Emily Dickinson
Poem of the Day
- The Escapist, Jaipal Singh
- GOD LISTENS AND SPEAKS, Michael P. Johnson
- A Journey By Indian Train, Bijay Kant Dubey
- They die before you do., Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
- Witch Romance, Alexander Onoja
- The safe ground, Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
- Old age gripping, Rm.Shanmugam Chettiar.
- Your Warmth 2, Michael P. McParland
- The Zulu King, Margaret Alice Second
- I Love Life, Alfred Oyori