Bog Confessions

I confess I do not believe in Time 
says Nabokov. We’re strolling (firmly) 
in a Swiss bog discussing butterflies 
and literature. He loves the first 
with a blue passion, but writers — pah! 
Derivative art. His is an entomologist’s 
eye: yes, he admires lattice wing in flight, 
but moreso likes the heft of net, its sweet 
whistling swoop and swallow — that one swift bite 
of air that gulps the butterfly. Nabokovi 
he whispers down the microscope at moths 
and several butterflies. Such original genitalia! 
And so identified, the specimens are stored 
in tins, before being ‘relaxed’ and pinned 
and spread and dried again on setting boards 
and labelled (Nabokovi!) and placed at last 
in drawers (mahogany and glass) that roll 
and purr. His is an entomologist’s heart: 
he favours classifications. I don’t believe 
in Time, he states, yet pins it to the alpine air 
in family lines: Applied, Perceptual, Pure. 
His theory flutters, won’t be staked. A crimson sun 
sinks in the lake. Moths rose. We chat. 
This happened, never happened. Is. 


Sue Wootton’s first collection of poetry, Hourglass, was published in 2005, and a second collection, Magnetic South, is due out early 2008 (both published by Steele Roberts). Sue has been appointed as 2008 Roberts Burns Fellow at the University of Otago.‘

Bog Confessions’ began with an impulse to track down Nabokov’s comment ‘I confess I do not believe in time’. Sue says the route to the source of that statement was a meandering one, involving many butterflies.