Many of this mute ground cricket species
invade my basement apartment
one by one
First, their movement slows,
then the long jumping legs fall off.
Sometimes there is a stain
of blood or digestive fluids.
They curl up in the end,
one antenna still moving,
lingering, grasping onto here
or already exploring cricket heaven there?
I want them gone,
but I would also like to lessen their suffering,
make it easier for them to pass to the cricket afterlife.
I thought of playing cricket music
but I don’t know what the chirps mean
and might pick a scary song.
It was my mother I first asked about death
after staring at myself brushing my hair
in my parents’ bedroom mirror.
She told me not to think about it.
When she was keeping so many people alive
as a nurse in small-town nursing homes,
I asked her how she could deal with all the death.
“It’s easier to see someone who has had a full life die
than to work in pediatrics and see children die,”
How, I wondered, can a person bear to watch anyone die?
Years later, I regret not being there to hold
my parents’ hands as they passed.
So I just let them die on their own,
then scoop them up,
the hard exoskeleton of the thorax
crunchy in the paper towel,
the hexagonal compound eyes
staring up at me,
the unwilling undertaker
who takes small steps at grasping her own mortality
while reluctantly witnessing the final, slight breaths,
momentarily mourning all the miniature, not so trivial deaths.