Helen Rich

For An Arthropod

We had to kill the fruit flies.
I do not care much for dissection;
silly scalpels littering the labs,
cold bodies concealed
in ultimatum-vaults.
We had to watch them twitch.
I was reminded of down by the bayou
watching the boiled red crayfish
"crawfish," as if it made them seem less
like the pets we kept
in the kiddie pool
in my fourth grade classroom.
They lay, still warm, on the table,
looking up at me with pleading beady black eyes.
One lay under a napkin.
I tucked him in, thinking of lullabies,
but did not touch
for fear I would feel more
than was already incinerating my head,
my red cheeks.
Everyone else grabbed at them,
defiling the dead
with perverse enjoyment.
I was left alone at the end of the table,
even by those who shared my compassions,
forsaken for an arthropod.
It was cold for a night down by the bayou
as the night air became an ice-pack for my face
at the end of the chilled plastic table.


Copyright 2002-2008 Student Publishing Program (SPP). Poetry and prose 2002-2008 by individual authors. Reprinted with permission. SPP developed and designed by Strong Bat Productions.