Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Moral Dilemma with a Spider

Part I

I don't know
if I should
this spider
struggling up the blue
cinder block high school
bathroom wall.

Is it struggling because it's half poisoned,
or just because it's on a slick surface?

Is it famished from a lack
of flies during this
famine of a winter?

How did it get into such an
interior lavatory anyway?

Will quickly stepping on it
save it from the fate it could face
if some feckless freshman
tried to squash half of it
or snip off its legs
in some
zoologically sadistic
Dr. Heideggerish
designed (subconsciously) to
reveal some deep truth
about pain and death
to this sophomoric mind,
yet unschooled in the full
nature of life's bitter cafeteria-style cup?

Or, am I the real junior here
to this imagined student,
so young in feature
senior in terms of
exposure to some unthinkable
home life,
one that I
as a teacher
often catch a glimpse of
but shut my eyes to
and quickly turn from
to avoid the culpability
that would come with full
even though I have the
innocence-bestowing ignorance
of what to actually do
to help
(though we try our darndest
by telling ourselves they can be saved
with the help of
the quadratic formula,
a poster project about the Crusades,
mitosis and meiosis,
and the ability to identify symbolism).

Anyway, I still don't know know
what the ethical thing to do is
with this spider
(or with this imagined student
for that matter,
who seems to be struggling up their own
cinder block
without the aid of Spiderman's mutation).

I partly feel morally obligated
to put the 8-legged creature
out of its misery
due to what might be in store:
a mangled existence
or starvation.

That seems like a logical thing to do.

I'll do what's always easiest -
inaction -
and walk

Part II
Writing this poem
one week after the fact
I realize
I could've set the spider
free outside.

(I don't know what spiders do
during winter, but I guess the species survives
from year to year, which makes me think
it would find something instinctively self-preserving
to do, maybe.)

I still don't know about that freshman, though.