Sexton Beetle

They move secretly in

the permeable loam,


shame in every shuffling step

though they’ve caused no death,


only discovered it.

They fold the body over


with soil and litter, cross themselves,

and give the only rites they know.


Three days later,

the children emerge from the crypt.


William Johnston was born in southwest Minnesota and currently lives and writes in Minneapolis. His poetry has recently appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, Leveler, and other publications, and he has contributed poetry to Tupelo Press's 30/30 Project.