Life Of A Cockroach - Poem by Edmund Wong
There was a cockroach, struggling
To survive on Christmas night,
Away from its hidden nook, naked to all,
Out into the unknown, for just a nibble;
So insignificant was it or its meal,
Against the adversary it’s up against,
Or the struggle it was forced to brook,
A constant rush for life or death.
But anyhow it didn’t have a choice-
Hunger would have killed it all the same.
The world would not grudge what it’s lost,
If the petty thief is not caught, or else
The penalty is instant, abject death.
There, darkness was its only friend,
In whose presence was lent its might.
But in an adventitious snap
Of Fortune’s hand, this friend,
Abandoned it in such hazards
As it was not fit to defend against.
Though there was never such a friend,
If the little creature had such faith,
As we do in God, for a quick advent
Of dusk might be all that it would pray.
Why didn’t it run, or run amok,
On another night I wouldn’t understand.
Hanging on the brink of the bare,
Cold sideboard, it didn’t skittle away,
It didn’t quiver for an inch, but lingered
There motionless, as though it were dead,
Or so it feigned to be; exposed and damned,
By the sudden spotlight of mockery.
What if we laugh at its innate frailty,
Its inane attempt or the lively irony,
We can crush its brittle body inadvertently,
And never feel sorry for our supremacy?
Isn’t life supposed to be a gift,
Whether we are big or small, lovely
Or hideous, fearless, gentle, or timorous,
Don’t we deserve an equal chance and right
To live, as we all never asked to be?
On another night I would have crushed it.
So much for its natural right to live,
We have much more right to kill it,
If only we have the power to do it,
And reason to vindicate our rights.
With friends my dignity would supplant
My sentimentality, with a woman
I must prove man’s masculinity.
But on that night, being alone with it,
I could afford to refuse to be that man.
I refused to be Fortune’s borrowed hand.
Perhaps such was my only luxury.
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