This poem is based on an actual event in Siddal's life. The beetle was indeed used for a demonstration.
Black Beetle Through a Microscope
Purple-black, shiny as polished stone,
it once burrowed in the soil, signaled to its mate
by fanning out its leafy antennae.
Fetched from the kitchen to compare to Durer’s art,
its dissected body now lies here, extended
under a microscope. Shell flayed.
the thin membranous wings
that once took flight.
Your gaze cuts deep. Penetrates into the dark
interior, possesses tiny follicles,
hairs that stand on end.
The professor remarks how Durer’s drawing captures
the beetle’s likeness. How accurate
his art to anatomy.
You agree, nod your head. Wonder at anatomies
how bodies are framed
through the lens of an eye.
The carcass, no longer useful, discarded
with the rotting vegetable roots and rancid meat.