That’s it, I killed. Thanksgiving Day,
no less. In violation of the first,
most fundamental of the Buddhist precepts,
not to mention number six
of the Ten Commandments. Thou
shallt not. So yes, I killed
a bug. There it was, brazen,
on our kitchen counter top,
between two dishes brought home
from Thanksgiving dinner
with our friends. My intention
was no more sinister than removal;
my weapon, a paper towel, thrice folded
to protect my fingers from contact
with the creature. The cockroach, though,
is a fast and wily bug. First try
it darted as I struck; I was not sure
if it was in my grasp. “Did I get it?”
I checked with our house guest, watching.
”No,” he said, “I’m pretty sure
you missed.” And sure enough,
I’d come up empty. “There,” he said,
pointing, “there.” And there it was,
lurking maliciously, sheltered
by a nearby cooking pot. I struck again,
this time harder, faster, with less
hesitance, perhaps—a strike
that rapidly proved fatal, too hard
for the little creature’s body.
I disposed of it through the kitchen window,
where I had planned—I swear—to set him free.
Well, I thought—to justify my act—if only
he’d stayed sitting still, I could have
picked him up more gently
with my paper towel, and spared
his life. He brought it on himself.
Still, I woke thinking of this bug
this morning, and of how thoughtlessly
we do strike out against imagined enemies
and needlessly extinguish life. Too bad.
I only hope my accumulated merit
outweighs this act of wanton murder
on Thanksgiving night!