Apostate Beetles

There are two poems some pages apart but both touching upon the theme of consuming or eating in Mary Di Michele’s first book of poetry Tree of August. The first poem describes the labours and predation of the buffalo beetle (dermestes vulpinus). These particular specimens are at work in the Royal Ontario Museum where in the opening stanzas they eat the carcass of a camel and are considered “prized employees”. But they are ravenous and this is how the poet describes the turn to other feeding.

But some grow greedy on camel grease
and acquire a more exotic taste
for mummies, well aged and smoked
beyond the steel doors.

They attack other “delicacies”

until they are force-fed fumigation
and die, professionals.

And we come some pages later to “Sunday Dinner” where a father berates a daughter and the scene gets caught up in the ironies of transubstantiation.

I remember how the eucharist
used to stick to the roof
of my mouth, a gummy wafer
I had to peel back with my tongue.

Some things will not be swallowed.

From the depiction of the spoils of omnivorous scavenging to the gesture of refusal, the theme of appetite bites and deserves to be digested.

And so for day 360

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