Cactus longhorn beetle
Dear Mr. Moneilema gigas:
I saw you there – amidst the spines
Where only wrens can sing
Your slick-black back I recognized
your crouch, your antennary wings
The way you carried on for days
So full of import green
Devouring flesh ‘twixt bristled maze
faster than I’d ever seen
I pretended not to notice you
Ignored your horse-like face
But still I sensed your steppings
like drops, like chills, like lace
Your lingering was odd, the damp
had left its last imprint
the light now casts its certain slant
and you –there!– still gorging on the mint
Your delight my Echinopsis
framed by my window, there
its single bloom once saved me
from a springtime of despair
I might have left you to continue
Natural order I too revere
Deciding who eats what, and what eats whom
holds up a ghastly mirror
We humans hate for one to lose
the pretty ones their room
But what right have I –a woman!– to choose
the beetle or the bloom?
Why not a lovely lady bug
red wings with stories and flight?
Or even your cousin, Eleodes Pinacate
who turns upside down in fright?
You! You have no handstand or perfumed dance
Your wings are fused and useless
Your gluttony alone your sentence
I did not ask to choose this.
For today I stepped outside my home
and stopped in frightful cower
I saw you were no more alone
then – Oh! – a ghost, my favorite flower!
The morning light cast from the east
Dionysian debauchery at dawn
You had mounted one just like yourself,
while another gnawed, besotted, on
To one of you I might have granted
permission to stay the hibernation
But three of you? – One chomping rampant,
And two in fornication!
Such gourmandizing I could not ignore
So clear what spring would bring
No large white blossom anymore
But hundreds of hungry moneleimini
I knew right then the time had come
God, for a moment I’d be
I went inside to get the tongs
And plucked you – One! Two-three!
Down the block I carried you all
Safe in Tupperware
Released you in an empty lot
Full of prickly pear
Neither protest nor complaint you spoke of
When I moved you from your plate
All hunger sated? Or was it love
That stuck you to your mate?
Who can say if tomorrow you’ll notice
Once you come apart to snack
That you’ve lost your favorite cactus,
and that I, gladly, gained mine back.
Kimi Eisele is a writer, dancer/choreographer, and educator. She is currently working on a novel set in the aftermath of a severe economic collapse. She also co-directs NEW ARTiculations Dance Theatre, a modern dance company that makes dances about important things and sometimes performs them in unusual places. Her inventory poem was inspired by a three-month visit with the ghost of Emily Dickinson.