Tolerance is an entitlement from the insects
each day they allow us to be vulnerable in
their world. They could choose to consume
us off the face of the earth in a single year.
This is science-based, this is not a lie we tell
ourselves to tantalize our sense of safety.
Some insects are transgender, far beyond your
limits: animals too, even the ones you call daughters
and sons. Diversity cannot be contained; sea-creatures
not yet known to humanity are reproducing without
binaries in the darkest crevices of the oceans. All
of this is evidence-based, all with antecedents far
more tangible than your mere will. It’s fun
to think you are endangered, as long as
you are safe. But if you really want to
scare yourself, think of the fetus growing
without your god, who has not given each
creature a purpose known to man. Consider the
seamonsters, unnamed in the depths, swimming
in the poisoned seas, waiting for their time
to come again. And think of the mercy of the
insects, as they consider you from the corners
of their kingdom, legs bent in their webs, as though
searching the air, sensing the vibrations, awaiting the
limit of a threshold.
Annie Reid is an American now living in Sweden. She’s published short fiction in several magazines, including American Short Fiction, Alaska Quarterly Review, Another Chicago Magazine, The Baltimore Review, Nimrod, and Prism International, among others. She has only recently begun writing poetry and this is her first published poem.
Inspiration: I began to think about the existential arrogance around the policing of language, as though we knew perfectly the moral compass of the universe, and the presumption that we’re in charge of it. This poem was an exploration of the fact that we don’t even know whose mercy we have the grace to survive under.