I remember Grandpa Marvin’s
basement filled with beetles and
Missouri moths and crawly
things with feelers and shells
the color of oil puddles
he was an exterminator
who studied bugs alive
and dead in glass boxes
or picture frames nailed
to canvas through the
belly he had a snake
also but it escaped to the
zoo I was told as a child
I don’t remember touching
the staples in Grandpa’s
neck before he died but
I like to think I thought
they were hard
candy now perched
on a kitchen table
in New York I’m hiding
from this beetle in my
apartment I imagine Grandpa
dangling it by a curly leg
to show its hidden
colors then he’d poison
the bed it sleeps in
and we’d light a candle
or something knowing
Ralph that’s his name
died in beetle dreams
but really I’d call a
guy I met at yoga to
kill the thing and he’d
say something like “I’ll take
care of this” and come
to my apartment certain
as a Trojan commercial
he’d give a proud stomp
the sound of hard
candy cracking the beetle
twitching almost dead and
i’d cry for the beetle
dead and always dying
on the kitchen floor
last week I heard they found
snakeskins lining the walls
of Grandpa’s old basement
coiled in the insulation
like abandoned bedsheet
ghosts every night I sleep on
the kitchen table and every
morning I wake up with
a crawling feeling

-allison becker