Back in the heady days of my misspent youth, my then-roommate and I moved into an apartment that had been vacant for some time. Every insect in the complex had moved in to escape the exterminators that paid regular visits to the other units, so for the first few months we were there, we had to battle the infestation on a daily basis. Friends knew the problems we were having, but didn't mind coming over to my regular dinners because they knew I was scrupulous about making sure their dishes were clean and the food was non-contaminated. However, thanks to my idiot roomie walking in and chirpily announcing things like "I killed 7 more roaches today!" during our meals, even the most die-hard friends stopped coming to eat. This poem reminds me of those days....
Christopher Morley (1890-1957)
from NURSERY RHYMES FOR THE TENDER-HEARTED
(Dedicated to Don Marquis)
SCUTTLE, scuttle, little roach—
How you run when I approach:
Up above the pantry shelf,
Hastening to secrete yourself.
Most adventurous of vermin,
How I wish I could determine
How you spend your hours of ease,
Perhaps reclining on the cheese.
Cook has gone, and all is dark—
Then the kitchen is your park:
In the garbage heap that she leaves
Do you browse among the tea leaves?
How delightful to suspect
All the places you have trekked:
Does your long antenna whisk its
Gentle tip across the biscuits?
Do you linger, little soul,
Drowsing in our sugar bowl?
Or, abandonment most utter,
Shake a shimmy on the butter?
Do you chant your simple tunes
Swimming in the baby's prunes?
Then, when dawn comes, do you slink
Homeward to the kitchen sink?
Timid roach, why be so shy?
We are brothers, thou and I.
In the midnight, like yourself,
I explore the pantry shelf!