How the Dung Beetle Finds Its Way Home

The Milky Way’s glinting ribbon helps the dung beetle
roll his good ball of shit back to the ones he loves.
But blind him to the sky with as little as a hat,
and he will swerve like a drunk who, if he makes it home alive,

might find the family, soured with waiting,
gone. Drawers cleared, beds cold, even the watercolor ark
of giraffes and raptors pulled from the face of the fridge.
See? I want to tell my missing father, it’s a metaphor so simple

it’s almost not worth writing down: even beetles need the stars
to nudge them back to where they need to be
when they need to be there—toward their little ones’
gummy grins ever pardoning the grisliest parent.

I am thirty-four with a son the day my mother tells me
she enrolled in a four-day seminar about how to be a good mom.
A little late, I know. 
Once, in a rage, I left my husband and our sleeping child.

Where did you go, friends ask when I tell the story.
I wish I’d had a grander plan. I wish I’d stood on the roof
of our building and, empowered by that single Brooklyn star,
I’d ripped up the book of my parents’ sins.

Or I wish I could tell someone the truth: that I fear
I am the kind of woman who could leave the one good family
God had the gall to give her. Really,
I sat on the stairwell leading up to the roof and wept

until a large bug threatened my life, at which point I recalled
the dung beetles, stopped blaming my parents, and—
thanking the metaphorical stars—I rolled up my pile of shit
and trudged back home.

Eugenia Leigh, “How the Dung Beetle Finds Its Way Home” from Bianca. Copyright © 2023 by Eugenia Leigh. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books,