Beetle

Published in the Mid-American Review and on Mass Poetry

His black-shellacked body
lay belly up on the basement floor,
everything in him already

decided, the huge husk of him—
three sections knuckle-coupled
like train cars: the thorax scribed

with scarabs, compact as a flower bulb,
the abdomen hinged to his tiny head,
and inside that, the minuscule brain

that mounted his little music, day
and night issued meek and fierce
instructions to himself in his dark city.

And refused what? And raced where?
Sought what solace scuttling?
And did he notice or not the tepid light

squinting through smeared windows?
Did he brace his legs against the spin
of the washer’s thrum? Nothing more

for him but this one hard look—to memorize
the six matched dancers of his legs,
each curving toward its partner in a series

of jointed etceteras all the way out
to the hooks, barbed, and beyond,
the ardent tips that almost touch.