Arizona Black Beetles

Some had been stepped on,
their split bodies trapped in time.
Others were wounded,
moving on two legs in a tilt.
Most ran fast, confused
by my shadow which way to turn.

There were so many
days of summer rain, and they came
en masse for the ironwood blossoms,
short-lived lives airbrushed
by wind in a long sigh.

I stopped to help one on its back,
though I knew it meant it was dying,
its muscles weak, legs kicking
toward the sky. It took three times
turning it over before it stayed righted.

Mostly, I walked through a massacre,
thinking of battle, the bloodied
brought into tents, and the war nurses
do not know who to help first.

One afternoon, I watched a beetle
pull another off the pavement.
It struggled for five or so minutes
until it reached soil and the root
of a rhododendron bush.

Soon it will be overwintering.

It crawled on top of the dead one,
covered it with its body.

 

 

 

 

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Fjords Review, Miramar Poetry Journal, New Ohio Review, and Under a Warm Green Linden. She was the recipient of the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and a finalist in the 2020 Mslexia Poetry Competition. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut.
(Photo courtesy of Chris Conforti)