These Are the Nights That Beetles Love
It is true these are the nights
that beetles love. And these days,
and mornings, too. August
is their favorite month.
They have tracked the moon's
orbit, checked the temperature
of sand and gravel, measured
the angle of the sun on the ferns
and noted how it looks,
this evening, like a picture of sun
on ferns. They know nobody
you love is in the hospital.
They know your parents
are still alive. When you sit down
with a bowl of orange sherbet
and pause to consider the shape
of sunshine on the porch floor,
some general in their army
of beetles—Japanese, June,
Cucumber, Carpet, Carrion,
Dung, Blister, Powderpost–
orders one armored creature,
little tank, to rumble across
the floor in front of you, right
into the trapezoid of sunshine
you have waited all summer
to feel on your feet in this moment
after dinner when you thought
the world was perfect.
Split the Lark and You’ll Find the Music
Split the Lark and you'll find the Music–
though you'll have to dig and
the search for art is not a clean business.
First, remove the feathers. Note
how thin the skin is. Consult
a diagram to locate the uropygial gland.
Scoop out the wax. Rub it between
your fingers. Now preen the feathers
you removed. If you are going
to slice into a bird, demonstrate
some tenderness. Use scissors
to make a slit from the sternum
to the vent. Part the skin, part
the muscles. Cut through the ribs
to the base of the wing. Peel
the skin back from the breast
and pull out the intestines.
Cut the skin from the breast up
to the side of the bill. Find the soft
esophagus and trachea, bronchi
and lungs. Find the syrinx.
This is the avian vocal organ.
Cut one corner of the mouth
and pry the bill away to see
the tongue. Set the instruments–
scissors, forceps, scalpel, tweezers–
aside. Lift the bird with two
cupped hands and hold it as you might
try to hold water. Hold it until you feel
overcome with abstraction: remorse
or gentleness, fascination or
disgust, power or vulnerability.
Here is the music. Now sing.
Cindy Hunter Morgan is the author of a full-length poetry collection and two chapbooks. Harborless (Wayne State University Press) is a 2018 Michigan Notable Book and the winner of the 2017 Moveen Prize in Poetry. Apple Season won the Midwest Writing Center's 2012 Chapbook Contest, judged by Shane McCrae. The Sultan, The Skater, The Bicycle Maker won The Ledge Press 2011 Poetry Chapbook Award. She writes regularly for Murder Ballad Monday, a blog devoted to the exploration of the murder ballad tradition in folk and popular music. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Tin House Online, Passages North, Salamander, The Pinch, and West Branch. For several years, she taught poetry and book arts at Michigan State University. She now heads up communications for Michigan State University Libraries.