The killer is the rat’s white brother or aunt,
or even the mother, lineage blurred except
they know which of the babies must go.
Hairless infant, like a pale thumb, atrophic
and rigid as age, a pin’s width of life—
this is what death looks like, any death.
In the dirt, in the street, in the church,
in the city square, in the ocean, in the cage,
leaks the reality, no one, nothing, is excused.
From infant rat to queen, from maggot
to teacher, from president to banker to thug,
the world looks over its shoulder,
and a whole planet, covers its eyes, lies,
“I don’t see you,” the great white rat above
baring unforgiving fangs.
Katherine M. Gotthardt
Copyright August 25, 2011