Rich Ives

If You Had No Legs, Children of Bertrand, What Would You Carry?
by Rich Ives

Great Capricorn Beetle

Bertrand’s black body turns reddish brown at his extremities. He flies quickly but heavily from danger. He’s experimenting with children. His are legless, large, white and worm-like, up to three and a half inches in three to four years. They dig tunnels to the sapwood of ambitious climbers, but don’t often kill them. The damage, however, drains Bertrand’s resources, and still, he cannot help responding to the tiny grating sound they produce when distressed.

In France Bertrand’s a rarity, which seems to protect him, in England Bertrand’s gone. Distress has become too available. He must avoid it, stay scarce in the tabloids. He does not gather the native’s generous pollen but licks the dripping sap from the producing trees. He lives inside an old fallen oak.

Bertrand’s “sheep’s horn” is really a long hardened antenna for social networking. He cannot risk an appearance. Someone at an emotional distance mistook it for aggression. It’s longer than he is, but how long will his world let him be? How much experimenting must he do to become less than a legend?

For Bertrand, extinction is single-minded. One blossoming of capture is a bomb, one accident on the pathway, a family secret so small one child might someday contain it.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 23, Issue 3.

Rich IvesRich Ives has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, Seattle Arts Commission and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines for his work in poetry, fiction, editing, publishing, translation and photography. He is the 2009 winner of the Francis Locke Poetry Award from Bitter Oleander and the 2012 winner of the Thin Air Creative Nonfiction Award. His books include Light from a Small Brown Bird (Bitter Oleander Press–poetry), Sharpen (The Newer York—fiction chapbook), The Balloon Containing the Water Containing the Narrative Begins Leaking (What Books–stories) and Tunneling to the Moon (Silenced Press–hybrid).

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