Friday, September 3, 2010

The Beetle


The Beetle
Brookdale Park
New Jersey

Roses

It’s time you learned something.
Halfway outdoors
he pauses, the flat dark fury of
his jaw, one eye, a shoulder in torn
blue cloth, the pruning shears
a mammoth claw resting
between meals.

I scramble
up, terrified and down
the drive, the gravel’s
brittle froth
and stand completely
helpless as he parts
a thousand pinkish eyelids
to find the beetles nested
at the root, teeming
disease.

They came from Japan, 1961.
They were nothing like the locusts
we hadn’t noticed until they
were gone, the husks
sheer tuxedos
snagged on bark, the rafters,
the dying bayberry.

It’s easy—
pop them between your nails.
In the tool shed’s populous
shadows, I hold the Mason jar instead
with both hands as he shakes
the flowers above
the kerosene which is shivering now
like the ocean I have never seen…

and I bear on a tray indoors
the inculpable, blushing prize.

Poem by Rita Dove 2006

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