looked up in to sky
saw there
her future
we are cockroaches
she told her husband that evening at dinner
as he sat trying to eat fast so he could check his messages
annoyed and perpetually irritated with her queries and words
he wished momentarily he could seal her in an Amazon Prime box
and return her with a free print it yourself label
if only marriage were as easy as that to dissolve
okay I’ll take the bait, why are we cockroaches?
he replied eventually with a weary voice, if only to get her to stop
standing with wet hands from washing in the kitchen center
unaware of how absurd and unattractive she was
with her rolled shoulders and sagging bust line
why can’t she look like the girls I subscribe to?
a lazy thought passed behind his eyes as he vainly tried
and failed
to show a modicum of interest
we are cockroaches she repeated
her face blazing underneath the low hanging light fixture
he’d installed badly
because bees and frogs and bats
if they die out we all go
She slapped her red hands together making a strange squelching sound
her lips twitching oddly
But if we
with our Sistine chapels, Leonardo’s
drive-in Sonic Burger, Schlitterbahn water parks
Round-Up, teenage sized tampons and driverless cars
if we die … IF WE DIE!
Her voice raised an octave and dominated the quiet room
he thought her shrill and unbearable
a streak of sweat
began to gnaw at his calf as it ran slowly toward his socks
socks she had to bleach after he left them unwashed and yellowed in his cupboard
resisting the urge to itch he tried to stay motionless, could it be if he blinked she would be gone?
But if we live … as we live … when we have lived
such a short time comparatively if you think
watch the years before us, long and steady
now watch the timeline unruffled by menace
as we come into being that trajectory takes on an awful shape
the shape of destruction! Not only will nothing happen to every other living thing
on earth if we are not here to witness it
but the damage we have wrought in such a short time!
so much damage!
we breed animals and slaughter them inhumanely in abattoirs
we condemn Nazi’s for gassing Jews and gypsies
but how are some of our actions so different?
we deny basic healthcare to our most vulnerable citizens
and call ourselves progressive or worse
blame those who are not able
to defend themselves
He wiped his face with his meaty hand; This isn’t going to be another vegetarian rant is it?
rubbing the sweat from underneath his eyes
it seemed to be getting very hot in the room
there wasn’t any chilli in dinner was there? He asked as
something seemed to stick quite determinedly in his throat
feeling nauseous he reached for the glass of water
it looked like it was sweating too
the room was too hot
turn the damn air conditioning up he raised his voice and began
to sound as shrill as she had
you know nothing you say will stop me eating meat
and I don’t agree with you but then thinking about it
I rarely do
you care about abstracts
you point to diagrams that show ‘evolutionary’ destruction at the hands of humanity
and even if this is so
look at our progress
look at our knowledge
What knowledge? What mercy?
We still can’t cure the common cold
she retorted with her back turned to him
she appeared to be drying the dishes he couldn’t remember giving her
the room was spinning
I don’t feel well, he said
lurching slightly in place
I wouldn’t think you would
she replied, he could not see her face
only the stains of sweat underneath her thick arms
reaching around like hands behind her
you always felt animals were equal to us and they just aren’t
he tried to modulate his voice but it had grown
as if he were contained within glass being slowly
like a spider you find in the tall grass and collect
for Monday’s school project
I don’t feel well, he repeated
his eyes rolling in their waxy sockets, his tongue lolling
that would be the castor bean oil
I mixed it into your dinner
she said
as calm as if she were saying out loud
Sunday’s grocery list or tonight’s TV programming
and shutting the kitchen door
she left her husband
who by now was unable to speak
a small mercy for them both
and taking off her house slippers she stepped out
into the back where the mature trees reached high into the night
and began
very purposely and with great care
to dig a hole
deep enough to bury
a cockroach