There is this little bowl at my friend’s house.
It’s a silver bowl, slightly oxidized and about the size of a coconut sliced in half. You wouldn’t think by looking at it, but it is heavy in a pleasing way.
On its rim, at opposite ends, two flat handles are floating horizontally like petals in the shape of seashells. Like a coquille Saint-Jacques, to be more specific.
What fascinates me more is the chaos it contains.
Stacked on top of each other are all kinds of beetles, butterflies, dried seeds and seashells frozen in time — a million shades of green, blues and purples accompanied by a subtle fragrance of hibiscus.
You need to know that I’m not too fond of bugs.
Ladybugs are pretty. Butterflies are fun. Bees and I are cool.
But the chunky ones are where I draw the line. Think your giant fat moths and your cringy roaches. I can’t stand those fat abdomens.
And yet, I can’t take my eyes away from the content of this bowl. Without realizing it, I reach out for the largest dead beetle I’ve ever seen in my life. As it lies still in my hand, all I see is a perfect sculpture.
A domed hard shell protects the head and neck. Tiny white markings in the shape of sesame seeds cover its entire surface.
Right below the neck, two symmetrical coffee-coloured shells protect the fragile wings. They are glossy are covered with tiny bumps across their entire surface. I can feel them as I run my fingers over them.
Two large cream-coloured dots sit at the top of the beetle’s body. Horizontal rows of other white beads run along its entire back.
I flip it around.
Its underbelly displays a zebra pattern of thick coffee and dark orange lines. The legs and antennas are retracted close to the body.
I shuffle the exoskeleton in my hand a few more times, allowing my eyes to wonder. I realize that looking at both shells together, the shape of an elongated heart reveals itself.
I place the beetle back in the bowl next to the emerald moth, the copper beetles, and the four inches long scarab with its wings spread. I can see tiny little veins running parallel to each other on the surface of translucid membranes from where I’m standing.
I look to my left and realize that time has run away from me.
Out of my daze, I carefully put the bowl back on the shelf.
I linger a few more seconds, memorizing the bowl and its content. Beauty and perfection can lie in the most unexpected places.
I make a mental note to remember that.
I exhale, and I walk away.