Egypt Among Beets

High noon, and I’m rinsing
a rainbow of beets —
orange, red, striped —
easing clumps of dirt
off the tendrilled roots,
when a lump of something else
hits the sink — a sizable beetle,
iridescent green and gold,
no ordinary darkling,
but a scarab.
He’s waterlogged,
glowing like a stand-in
of the sun god,
eschewing Mojave sand
for sweet, damp loam
and the food I grow.
Once I pulled wild beets
by the Nile and unearthed
his ancestor, wore the sacred
amulet, prayed for good things
in this life and the next,
sang and danced the ritual
of the beetle, and so arrived
at this moment. I place Kheper
outside to find his land legs,
the left front still clutching
a bit of red root.

[Cynthia Anderson lives in the California high desert near Joshua Tree National Park. She is the author of four poetry collections and co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens.]