Melissa Balmain : To an Intruder


A pity you aren’t a cute little spider
or ladybug—then I’d escort you,
by means of a drinking glass, gently outside, or
in winter, not even export you.
But since you’re a wigglier, hairier, wider
and otherwise ickier sort, you
had better watch out, I exhort you.

You bring out the devil in me, centipede.
Although you’re a harmless, salubrious breed,
and scientists swear that you serve a great need,
you bring out the devil in me, centipede.

If you were a chipmunk or mouse, not to worry:
I’d trap you alive with nut butter,
chauffeur you in comfort and then watch you scurry,
my marshmallow heart all aflutter
with wishes that you—so endearing, so furry!—
would find a nice tree, hole or gutter,
plus rodent fulfillment that’s utter.

Yet when I discovered you, foul centipede,
my spine turning icy, my breath tripling speed,
I reached for this shoe to ensure that you’d bleed—
you bring out the devil in me, centipede.

From live-and-let-live types I’ve gotten the sermon:
The fate I deserve will be meted
when something (a bus?) swats me flatter than vermin.
Flash forward to Judgment: Who’s seated
above me with every gigantic leg squirmin’?
One guess. At the thought I’ll be greeted
in minutes by Satan and heated,

I’ll kneel at your myriad feet, centipede,
aware you can damn me or have me be freed—
and drag you to hell, overjoyed to succeed.
You bring out the devil in me, centipede.