Imagine yourself as

Scarabaeus sacer

clambering atop a ball of dung

waving about seeking guidance

from the Milky Way.

On a moonless night you

hoist yourself on to the stinky orb

and orient your tiny body

to a galaxy one hundred thousand light-years wide

two hundred billion stars therein.

Then off you go

with your mate at your side,

pushing the poo from the primary pile

to the perfect place.


True, the initial foray into the pile of dung

can be fraught with conflict,

beetles shoving and shovelling with single-minded ferocity,

a minor skirmish may ensue with another

dung beetle daddy looking to sublet,

attempted turd-jacking and road rage always a hazard,

but once the ball is rolling,

your path is straight as long as the skies are clear.

No roaming charges, no user fees

No need to stumble about seeking service

Nor call a friend (can you hear me now?)

No GPS chanting as you near the end of a muddy logging road

The Milky Way is steadfast and simple

Starlight straight to scarab.


Although the brain neuron ratio,

beetle to human, may be

one to a million,

without stopping at Costco or Walmart

the dung beetle is able to

relocate the nursery of its future family

using information from the sky.

A product of one-stop shopping, the dung becomes

incubator, then baby food, and finally it feeds the earth.


So consider selecting dung beetle

from the next-life list and look forward to

precision of purpose,

scientists having detected no angst in their subjects.

Find pile, make ball, study sky, go straight.

Their aim is true.


story © Janet Hodgkinson         illustration @ Francis Tremblay