Alyson Miller |

“Heterocera” emerged from three things: a sudden migration of waves that invaded our home (and tormented the cat); a documentary about insect life as the future for sustainable foods; and a news report about the impact of chemical farming and waste on the environment. Akin to John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids, ‘Heterocera’ imagines a world in which nature fights back.


There are moths in the sheets, meaty and grey, tangled in the pilled cotton like insinuations and old stains. Hooked into the fabric, the thick thorax cones of their bodies seem woven into the linen like broderie anglaise, whirling floral patterns of insect life. No beating will shake them out; nestled in wardrobes, their spindle legs emerge along collars and hemlines like whispers and plague. Aglossa cuprina are as feared as nightmares; the grease moth that feeds on the rendered fat of humans. The dirty cousins of the lepidopteron family, multiplication is no chore, and each generation finds its way with the one before. Inside, the walls have disappeared under the woolly mass of their weight; a world turned twilight for their crepuscular preferences. Outside, the Attacus atlas, fed on fertilizers and hormones in the rain, grow bat-large and territorial, nerve-endings wired for celestial navigation. And they circle, endlessly, the millions whose names mimic the gods—Luna, Polyphemus, Atlas, Promothea—guided by the sun, then the moon, for the promise of a straight-line home. In the gardens, there are only bones now, skies choked in a veil of paper-thin wings and the gentle plummet of corpses that flew too high.



Alyson Miller teaches literary studies and professional and creative writing at Deakin University, Geelong. Her short stories and poems have appeared in both national and international publications, including a book of literary criticism, Haunted by Words: Scandalous Texts and a collection of prose poems, Dream Animals.

Image from pixabay.com

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