Sep 05

Lymantria Dispar

by Meg Reynolds

It was early in summer of ugly nestlings
and earwigs knotted in my father’s fence.
The branches hung heavy with Lymantria Dispar moths.
Some idle parent said they could kill the trees
and my brother and I repeated, tattling
to whomever would listen. This was to excuse
how we killed them one at a time in the road.

We halved them with the plastic feet of Ninja Turtles
or bicycle tires. Their guts were green,
bright as ectoplasm as though we, over and over,
drove out the ghosts of bad endings.
They were a villainous gray too, hairy with evil,
because then evil was real and all around us,
as thrilling as a devil in the raspberry patch
or a bat in the cabinets.

We called our father to the yard to cut down
the gauzy fist at the end of a branch, the one thick
with silk and larvae. Just wait until our father
catches you, we cried under the leaves. He used
pruning shears and his bare hands to cut the nest down.
The tree limb whipped skyward, a chopped lasso
and he set the nest in the corner of the sandbox,

With horrifying love, he lifted his knee
and brought his boot down,
again and again. There was so much green
wetting the box, more than we had ever seen
with our small eyes. What magic
had we made, what terrible magic
in our fingers pointing to the sky.


Meg Reynolds is a Vermont-based poet, artist, and teacher. Her work has appeared Prelude, Mid-American Reviewand Fugue as well as The Book of Donuts. Her poems and comics are forthcoming in SWWIM, Inverted Syntaxand Peach Mag’s Us Too anthology. She co-directs writinginsideVT, a program that offers writing instruction at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility. She is the host and organizer of the poetry series Lit Club at the Lamp Shop in Burlington, VT.


Art by Art Editor, Michelle Johnsen

Michelle Johnsen (art editor) is a nature and portrait photographer in Lancaster, PA, as well as an amateur herbalist and naturalist. Her work has been featured by It’s Modern Art, Susquehanna Style magazine, Permaculture Activist magazine,, EarthFirst! Journal, Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and used as album art for Grandma Shake!, Anna & Elizabeth, and Liz Fulmer Music. Michelle’s photos have also been stolen by AP,, The Daily Mail, and Lancaster Newspapers. You can contact her at mjphoto717 [at]