We to the gods
The rotting adolescent rat - six days dead, or maybe eight,
in the centre of the closed-up summer house -
was not the worst of it.
The smell was huger far than the little dark-grey corpse
under the piles of clothes and shoes on the floor of the walk-in-robe.
With rubber gloves, antiseptic wipes and plastic bags
I was well-armed to deal with a decaying thing
smaller than a human hand. Pity, more than disgust,
made my mouth move as I disposed of it,
and the blowfly blackly dead
nearer the wall.
Five or six maggots wriggled quietly in the stain. My stomach roiled,
but a quick grab with an antiseptic wipe, and they were in the bag.
Now all I had to do, I thought was swab the carpet antiseptic-clean -
but every wipe brought maggots nosing creamy up for air.
Who'd have thought that one dead fly could fountain such a tribe
across a floor? Who knew the twisted worms of wool we walked on every day
would look, close up, quite so much like blowflies' evil-smelling young?
Days afterwards, all that I could see, eyes closed, were maggots
wriggling out of maggot-coloured wool.
It's not the foolish cat I blame, huddled in shame, baffled
what he'd done wrong. Far less the wounded rat
he'd carried to his lair and lost, poor helpless little beast.
Even the blowfly did no more than it was programmed to.
I blame the gods.
Small rodents, maggots and we -
the apex of creation, in our dreams -
are much the same to them.
They toy with all of us, and watch us squirm.
Worshippers in Dionysos' great theatre-temple
carved into the side of Acropolis
would have cried cruel tears of joy
to see me, bum-up, squeamish on my knees,
searching for stomach-churning carpet-twists
a little fatter than the rest. A little shinier.
Up on Olympos, the deity of tragi-comedy
bored deathless with the antics of eternal gods
still sniggers in his beard.
Wriggle for me, foolish little mortal.