Rest in peace, rat

This morning I was walking Clover, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw a dead rat lying in the street, right next to the curb. Stay with me here, because I know rats aren’t generally people’s favorite subject. But something about this rat was so compelling. It looked so extraordinarily peaceful, its eyes closed, resting — beautiful, even. I know that sounds very strange, and believe me, I am not generally a lover of rats. Quite the opposite. But this creature — it didn’t seem like just another nasty, disease-ridden rodent that infects our city (which is how I usually think of rats). I’m telling you, I couldn’t look away. Its face looked almost human, like it had a life story, and a spirit, that had been interrupted by whatever poison it ate. Its body looked so fragile and small. I forced myself to look at its tail, because rat tails usually gross me out, but I couldn’t conjure disgust even for that appendage. This creature was beautiful, there was no denying it, and I felt the loss of its life.

Life is all around us, if only we look for it. The more we feel it, the more, too, we feel its absence.

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