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Stag beetle

For three or four months it has got a life
and is testing it here - a miracle toy
that is all contraption, a Swiss army knife
in mid-air with all its gadgets deployed.

The antlers shine, the wing-covers gleam,
the wings vibrate - the whole device
shakes with effort, alarming as a dream
no flight engineer would wish to have it twice.

Precise as a Fabergé egg, it is whirling
through the summer dusk, cruising for a fight:
later, after it has got its girl,
it will sup at the oak tree's sappy delights.

It lumbers, it zigzags, it banks and veers,
tacking up to the crowns of the trees -
ungainly, yet able to commandeer
the fickle angles of the evening breeze.

In the wake of its whirring, something stays
like the ghost of a smile, imprinting the air
with an echo that outflanks the passing days
and lays time's clockwork contrivances bare.

Lawrence Sail, The World Returning, 2002.
With grateful acknowledgments to Bloodaxe Books.

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