[Published in The Little Patuxent Review, Spring 2010]
I KILLED A CENTIPEDE TODAY
I killed a centipede today.
I don’t know why, but there I was,
sitting at the bottom of the basement stairs
waiting for the iron to heat.
I had just put on my socks
when it walked across the bookshelf.
God only knows where it was going.
I watched it for a moment,
then perhaps some primal instinct
that abhors bugs in houses
took over and led me
to grab it with a tissue, crush it,
and flush it down the toilet.
Do centipedes believe in fate?
Are they Calvinist or Arminian?
Is there a centipede family somewhere
wondering what became of their father, son, uncle,
unquestioningly accepting his loss
as the impetuous act of a callous god?
Or, explaining that their vengeful god
punished him for his sins?
Or, are they shaking their heads and saying
that he knew the risks yet chose to go
and now he’s gone and life continues?
I do not believe in fate,
or a vengeful god.
I chose to kill the centipede,
and now I am diminished.