A Beetle and a Flower

(For my mother)

a beetle crossed my road —
lapis lazuli and red on black.

I watched it crawl,
so slow that twenty years crashed
as tyres crunched the asphalt all around
and sunlight draped the paddock
where you cup your pride —
an orchid, tender-stemmed,
with red veins running to pools of blue —
in hands cracked by years
scrubbing old men’s pans,
wiping lips purpled by death’s advance.

It made it to the other side, the beetle,
and, in the shadow of a leaf,
became a dark thing
burrowing into days of greying hair
and dimming eyes,
and the trembling hearts of flowers
fenced round from grazing sheep.

Peter Burges (Western Australia)

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