I said to my mother, who
Disturbed and distressed, by the
Constant interruptions and minor disappearances
Of food and what other things
Decided something must be done.
She first got a rat trap
And trapping one, released it somewhere afar off
Where it couldn’t intrude anymore
And despoil her peace of mind.
And then, it seemed there was more
Because the interruptions in her affairs did not cease
Pieces of bread were smuggled out
Just as brazenly as before.
And the rat trap came out again
But no rat in it
Maybe this one caught on to the trick
As a self-respecting modern rat in a modern world
Learning by dire example should.
My mother, now out of her wits’ end
Her shrine, the kitchen, thus invaded again
And molested daily, by a silly freak of nature
“I must get the rat”, she cried!
No, she did not wish to kill, but what choice is left, she asked
What could be done to divest of this devil?
So my mother mused, and I
Listening to her in this mood
Thought aloud, “We cannot kill this rat!”
It is a life, as life is ours
A soul it has, that breathes and moves
Surely it feels, as it hungers and thirsts
In all other bodily functions, it resembles us
What a burden on our conscience!
To snuff out this life—
Like a flame on a candle
A life dies with it, as one lives in it
No, mother, we cannot kill this rat
To which my mother, not unschooled in argument, returns
Yes, it is a life, but in the scale of evolution
What value does it have?
Everyday hundreds and thousands of us
Are killed in crashes, die hanging out of trains
Murdered brutally, die hungry or in pain
When human life is so cheap and easily sold,
What matters it, if a rat dies cold?