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Volume 13, Number 10—October 2007
THEME ISSUE
Global Poverty and Human Development
Another Dimension

Burning the Rat

Al Zolynas

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I find him lying by the door,
legs outstretched as if he died in mid-leap.
I pick him up by the tail.
He feels loose, beyond the first stiffness of death.
His molecules have realized the futility of hanging on;
they know the party's over, it's time to head home.
Suddenly, I want to burn this rat.
I surprise myself at how much I want this.
I want to save him from the slow
decay, the fetid rearrangement
of his parts --or so I tell myself.
But mostly, I want to see him burn.
I drop him on the wire screen
that covers the forty-gallon drum
I use for burning garbage.
I light the fire.
I am strangely satisfied.
As I expected, his whiskers furl
into quick question marks and are gone;
his fur bubbles, then turns black and dry.
The tail, the long nightmare of a tail,
holds on longer than I thought.
Hours later, it is the only thing left,
a white length of ash
like the backbone of something prehistoric
seen from a great distance.

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Cite This Article

DOI: 10.3201/eid1310.ad1310

Copyright Al Zolynas. Originally published in THE NEW PHYSICS, Wesleyan University Press, 1979.

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Table of Contents – Volume 13, Number 10—October 2007

Page created: July 02, 2010
Page updated: July 02, 2010
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The conclusions, findings, and opinions expressed by authors contributing to this journal do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the authors' affiliated institutions. Use of trade names is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by any of the groups named above.
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