The question of how many angels
can dance on the head of a pin
may be answered by the beetle
whose thorax the pin has been
skewered through, slightly off-center
to the right.
Listen for its answer carefully,
as the beetle is under glass.
And also dead. Do not lift the glass
or the angels will get away,
making it difficult for the dead
insect to reckon them.
Do not think of my sadness as rebuke.
Both beetles and angels are winged things.
But look at the beetle’s hard shell,
its iridescent dazzling—not, as you
might suppose, a strategy for mating—
Jessica Goodfellow’s poetry books are Whiteout (University of Alaska Press, 2017), Mendeleev’s Mandala, and The Insomniac’s Weather Report. A former writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve, she’s had poems in The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Scientific American, Verse Daily, Motionpoems, and Best American Poetry. Jessica lives and works in Japan.