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A RAT FLEA'S TALE

Up from the very deepest depths
Of critter degradation,
O God of Life and Sun and Stars,
I send this proud narration.

        If one looks down the graded lists
        Of menial creation,
        Below the snakes, below the gnats,
        You'll find my lowly station.

I'm just a flea who rides a rat,
Quite tiny but athletic,
Who innocently sips the blood
That keeps rats energetic.

        My role in life is quite robust,
        Though just a big ironic:
        When I start biting human folks,
        They call my bite "bubonic."

So though I'm small, my deeds are great,
And history shows my story,
Once twenty million died at once!
"The Black Death" was my glory.

        So I've reversed creation's plan!
        Though wee, my power's tremendous,
        The Last are first! the Poor prevail!
        And flea-bites are stupendous!

So I give thanks I bring The Plague --
At least folks won't just titter
At fleas -- who otherwise would be
The world's most trivial critter.  




from the forthcoming book Prayers of 100 Animals A to Z, by William Cleary

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