The Laboratory Animals, After Katrina
Mary Christine Delea
You won’t recognize us in the shadows of the flood, couldn’t tell us apart from your own pets, or animals locked in zoos. We look the same, those of us not evacuated or given antidotes. We survived by finding the water and the mud the same way you humans did. The way the animals you loved and left behind did. Only we did it better, on the sly. We have been in scientific studies. We’ve become smart
to your ways: opening cage doors, sneaking out, surviving no matter where we ended up. We know we are dying. We have been dying all of our lives of anthrax, plague, avian flu, and other illnesses not yet named, only numbered. Many of us died quickly once free in the city. But some of us are carriers only and we drink the water that poisons you, eat things that would kill you, sleep under what’s left of your buildings during the day. We are good at cowering in small spaces. We don’t mind the stench of rot. At night we are awake, and in the darkness we watch you rebuild your lives.
Mary Christine Delea is a recovering academic who lives in Oregon with her husband and their cats. Publications include The Skeleton Holding Up the Sky (Main Street Rag Press), two chapbooks, and numerous journals. Poems upcoming in nor, Mid-American Review, New Mexico Poetry Review, and Front Range, among others.