I know how to play. Of course I do. I know
that few think of me as being playful
or as the player. The most suspicious manage
to see me as the toy. I don’t get close to them.
But at times they are the only ones who pay attention
to me. Cousins I have with one great claw,
and cousins who live in borrowed houses. I, too thin
to make a meal, too ugly to be a trophy,
make a living eating little crawling things
and fleeing from those who see me like one.
Play with me. Not talking to you, bug.
What a hassle when your food wants to play.
I said I wasn’t talking to you. Now I am going to eat you
even though I am not hungry. Might be a game—
gluttony, punishment, putting bugs in their place.
But it has no game board, and you can’t cheat at it.
Ricardo Pau-Llosa is the author of six books of poems, most recently Parable Hunter (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2008). His website is www.pau-llosa.com. (updated 12/2009)