Monday, July 20, 2009

All the Little Animals

Photo taken enroute by Anna Carriker

Sad," I said the other day, in a woeful voice, while riding along on a rural highway with a carful of my relatives.

"Why sad?" asked my brother - in - law Ron, who was driving.

"That little dead raccoon we just passed on the side of the road," I answered.

"If you're going to feel sad every time you see a dead raccoon on the road," Ron replied, "then this is going to be a really sad trip."

In fact, it wasn't a sad day; we were on our way to a picnic; and I have to admit that Ron's remark, though not in the least glib, was kind of funny. Without being dismissive, Ron -- who has the kindest heart ever and loves all animals -- put the sadness into perspective. We all laughed ruefully.

But it is sad.

The cult of the car exacts a relentless toll on our environment and drivers don't hesitate to exact a steep price, wittingly or unwittingly. These little creatures, just another casualty, lose their lives for our convenience. Look around, you see them everywhere, every day, sad.

Makes me think of the poem "All the Little Animals" by Muriel Rukeyser, in which she writes about the days when the "rabbit test" was used to determine if a woman was pregnant. Rukeyser pays homage to the fact that reading the results of these pregnancy tests required killing the lab rabbits.

Can she really be pregnant? The doctor thinks not, but "'Yes she is," said all the little animals, and laid down their lives for my son and me."

"I hear them: 'Yes you are,' say all the little animals.
I see them . . .
they lay down their lives in silence,
all the rabbits saying Yes . . . "

from the poem by Muriel Rukeyser

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