No coda for the cockroach


Why do I loathe the cockroaches that par occasion bypass my wooden floors?

I loathe them because I see them.

If it were mice droppings I’d be unpleased. But a roach I resist with all my urban biology.

I like spiders and all that. That’s easy.

In a zoology prac we once dissected roaches. I enjoyed this less than plucking the kidney out of a gassed rat. I had feelings for the rat. The cockroach was just a lump of gross with an egg sac coming out of it. And I felt shameful. My higher feeling had deserted me.

I shriek for cockroaches. In reality they are the Oriental type and they can’t get vertical onto surfaces. They aren’t in my foodstuffs. They can’t harm me, but they unhinge me something terrible. I have a man comes round, George, who seals my cracks. He sprays and patches up millimetre thin crevices with a crude paste. This is useless.

All the time in the world. Pal.

I have semi Buddhist sensibilities: I avoid killing anything, but I’m not sure about the purpose attributed to all beings. I killed my first roach about a year ago. I don’t even know what it takes for the creatures to die. I don’t know what the difference between life and death is for a cockroach. It seems you have to physically obliterate their molecules so that post-cohesive, the roach just isn’t there anymore.

If I get an infection I have my own cohesion to consider, so I stop the breeding of bacteria with chemicals. Well, you can’t really kill bacteria, just slow them down. The roach is equally solid. It doesn’t get bleed, get cancer, have agonising childbirth. Neither do plankton, but we need the plankton.

I think the cockroach has a good thing going. I wonder if it has quality of life in the dark, the close. His power is that of the swarm, but the last roach alive will hang out a goodly long time and probably never yearn for the touch of his kin.

Then again, listen to Lydia Davis.

“It is in his moment of hesitation that you sense him as an intelligent creature. Between his pause and his change of direction, you are sure, there is a quick thought.”

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