Alfalfa Beetle: a Poem by Timothy Cheeseman

By Timothy Cheeseman

 

Alfalfa Beetle

One of thousands, she plumbs tides of alfalfa;
an insect lowrider, belly to the ground, pitch shell
streaked with green, feelers scraping the craggy dirt.

And one morning, while alfalfa bows in the early wind,
she’ll die after tucking a few larvae by a stone
where they will quiver like eyeballs staring into the cloudless sky.

The wasp will come like the pause before a twister: the promise
of noise. Rice-paper wings, motionless with flurry, will buoy
her thread-waisted bulk drunkenly over the flayed tassels;

she builds no nest, a living breeze descending only
to impregnate the unborn beetles; they are born corpses,
growing lighter with each step

as the worm-wasp churns like lethal worry beneath husks
of dark armor, stealing everything but the body.
Bloated with hunger, the young beetle will inch up a stem

one humid afternoon like a teeming elevator,
reach empty and float dead to the ground:
filled with the promise of flight.


Timothy Cheeseman is a guidance counselor at Shawnee High School in Lima, Ohio, where he previously taught literature and theatre. He has a B.S. from The Ohio State University and a M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University and studied under Allen Ginsberg at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado. A former Sacramento Poetry Prize Winner and Ciardi prize finalist, he last placed work in the Silver Birch Press, Evansville Review, and Facets Poetry Magazine. Prior to teaching, he worked as a professional social worker, college professor, naturalist, cook, and janitor. He was raised in the predominately Mennonite town of Plain City, Ohio. He resides in Lima with his wife and our two sons.

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