Rendez-vous With a Beetle


Rendez-vous With a Beetle:

Meet me in Usk

And drone to me

Of what a beetle’s

Eye can see

When lamps are lit

And the bats flit

In Usk

At dusk.

And tell me if

A beetle’s nose

Detects the perfume

Of the rose

As gardens fade

And stars invade

The dusk

In Usk.

Emile Victor Rieu (1887-1972)

The Beetles



One lady came into the shop but not to look for books. She leaned in and told me a long story about genealogy and gardening and this story went for a long time. I wondered if it would end. The trouble is that she is angry with a neighbour over a broken piece of fence and I am pinned to the counter with the golden spikes of someone else’s enthusiasm.
She kept drumming her nails on the counter to remind her of the next part of the quarrel. Sometimes the finger nails drummed a path directly toward me and then pointed at me as though warning me not to think of doing the same thing as the neighbour.
After a while the scraping fingernails started reminding me of some kind of scratchy beetle and I was aware of wanting to smash the hand flat with a massive Oxford dictionary that is next to me. A lightning (painless) but powerful strike that would flatten the beetles to a paper-thin preserved indifference. So flat that she wouldn’t be sure of the difference between her hand and the Jehovah’s Witnesses flyer next to it.
Imagine if she walked out with the Jehovah’s picnic invite instead of her own hand. Imagine the new outrage.