three legs ∙ 2023 [music]

a bug with three legs
crawls in circles on the counter
dragging its body, scraping its side
it used to have six legs
but now it has three
it flails on its back
kicking up in the air wildly
do i kill it? is that mercy?
because the world is cruel to bugs, whose whole life is experienced in a week
because people cull, because the world culls,
because survival of the fittest extends as far as humanity,
but still infects the brains of the callous and cruel
we are ants to them, drones who are only good if we have all six legs
and the drive to work ourselves to death
but unlike humanity
there never was empathy among insects
just the waggling of antennae
and the spreading of pheromones
reproduce, die. eat, build, die. pollinate, die.
i wonder, while observing it crawl, if it can feel pain
if it hurts to push itself forward with each step
if frustration rises in its thorax when it wobbles and falls
if it remembers having six legs --- or if it developed without them, if it saw the other bugs marching proudly and wished it could join them

it's a human struggle

i lay my hand on the counter
it cannot latch onto my skin.
i gently pinch it between two fingers, careful not to harm it any further.
it thrashes in my palm.
does it think i mean to end its life?
is this a death rattle? a means of provocation?
if it could speak, what would it ask?
some people would hear its cries as "kill me, kill me! this is not a life worth living!"
but that's not what i hear.

it's cold in my kitchen
i step outside, the sun kisses my face
maybe it cries for mercy, but not the mercy of putting a gun to its head and pulling the trigger
it's the mercy of kindness, of understanding
and maybe it's not sad, but angry
angry at the cruelness, angry at the culling
because bugs are not kind, and bugs do not try to understand
but i saw it in the way it crawled, every shake, every movement
it fights to live
because living is something worth fighting for

i take it to the flowers, and rest it on a leaf
it crawls, free, into the greenery
i go back inside

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