by Terry Trowbridge
A millipede was living in our potted basil.
not a tenant, but an unintentional squatter,
surprised by suddenly gentrified dirt
from the garden upscaled into a windowsill
with views of winter, a tv entertainment district,
unsympathetically policed by a housecat and a vacuum cleaner
two services working for public order
that were also at odds with each other.
The basil died, like most social experiments,
thirsty, neglected by sunlight, smelling beautiful
for the weeks before December’s solstice
but when the light returned the water bearers got forgetful.
Replanting, repotting, running a new trial,
we watched the millipede flee our renewal project,
hit the kitchen floor and disappear
into the pattern of the hardwood floor’s decades’ old grain.
After a few days, we’ve seen nothing of the displaced pedestrian.
We asked each other if the millipede killed the basil
even though other plants also wilted from neglect,
and maybe we will scapegoat the millipede among our excuses
telling the relatable story of how we nurtured our neighbourhood
but it’s the same old story, you know, you can’t force them to succeed.
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