“Rats” by Devin Williams

Devin Williams




Nesting in abandoned burrows,
Coastal cliffs,

And caves.

I am present when food is abundant.
Companion of Daikoku,
Savior of Sesshu,

First sign of the zodiac.

I am the scavenger of the night,

Recycling human refuse.

I am ruler of the underland.

Symbol of success
And prosperity,

Industry, and intelligence.

A prisoner of science,

I give you self-knowledge

And awareness.

I listen

With my nearly-naked ears.
I learn
From watching and repeating.
I feel

With my body and my soul.

It is only language that separates us.

Yet, you avoid
And attack me.
You don’t know me,
How can you claim to know how I feel?



Note from Williams on the use of found material and research in this poem: While browsing the reference section of the library, I came across The Encyclopedia of Animal Symbolism in Art by Hope B. Werness.  I immediately turned to the page about one of my favorite animals, rats.  I was intrigued by the fact that rats represented so many different things in cultures around the world.  I knew I wanted to write a poem celebrating this often unappreciated and hated species for their intelligence and sentience.  So, I picked out the most empowering words and phrases from the book, and combined them with my own knowledge about rats, as well as facts I found in Wildlife of the Mid-Atlantic by John H. Rappole.

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