watching a beetle – Renee Pettitt-Schipp

I watch the beetle make her slow way along the path,
her journey knows every rise in concrete,
every sweep of mortar.

There is something so simple
about how she does what she does, moving each of her six legs,
her fine antennae, knowing only this, then this, then that.

I wish I had fine antennae to help me feel my way forward,
six legs to know the earth. I wish I knew how to slow my days,
my minutes, into one foot in front
of the other.

Yesterday the first of the machinery
moved into the wetland.
Thirty people ran to witness,
twenty police to meet them.
I imagine the black cockatoo stirring in his tree
the oblong tortoise speeding over base of lake.

All the things I want to say are robbed by cliché.
All the things I want to know take time.

That night, someone set fire to the lake’s bushland. Its flames
spread through tall stalks drying in the suggestion of summer.
The blaze was soon quenched,
but something dark has burnt into me.

All the while
the moon is resting on someone’s skin, a lover
is kissing his partner’s hair, honeyeaters are suspended
in light above a sprinkler.

And I want to wander with the beetle, to know just this,
and what to do next, how to walk toward what it is
that feeds me.