23 October 2006

A pellet of dung beetles


The paddocks are holey with the work of dung beetles,
thus the paddocks are walked by black and white magpies whose songs are ethereal but whose great bills are pointed toward the earth.

So . . . furthermorely thus and aftermore, the Dung Beetle takes another turn in the cycle of recycling, emerging glittering as ever atop this fencepost

as a magpie's regurgitation pellet.
The pellet was removed temporarily,

then placed back where it was found.

The next day it was lost to these prying eyes.

The pellet was the size and shine of a mulberry, and smelt of magpie.

(I rather think that if a magpie wrote [noting that they would not all write in the same style any more than we do, but still . . .] the style would be florid, charming, intelligent and untrustworthy; but a dung beetle's prose would be clean, simple and as true as a great haiku.)


Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

Your last paragraph here reminds me of what one of my lecturers said about Walter Scott when I was at university, describing Scott's fictional adaptations of "real" historical events as a "magpie tendency". What he meant is that Scott plunders various references from the historical annals that have no relation whatsoever, then gels them together in single narratives where suddenly relations develop between them. Part of this also involves plundering stuff from folk traditions, folk tales, folklore etc--all part of his "invention of tradition" thing--where the folklore element becomes as real as history. I'm pretty sure that if magpies wrote that's exactly the kind of thing they'd be doing. Untrustworthy to the letter! Fun to read, though.

Alistair Rennie

anna tambour said...

Yes! And I do think they'd like to write about swords. I like magpies, though. They can have a mean streak, especially as teenagers when they have been known to form gangs, and enjoy dive-bombing innocents; but they can also be very charming, and have made many friendships amongst humans (and they like cheese). I once had a magpie friend whose neck was broken but not to the point of death. Severely injured, it needed lots of physio and a special holder rigged up for it, to support its body and head. It was a vigorous creature, a look-you-in-the-eye personality. I loved it, and flatter myself that it was not insensitive to my charms (or maybe our relationship was, in its eyes, a patient-to-nurse affair).