By Matt Cahill
I spent the afternoon sorting a tangle of dead bodies. Their legs were all snarled in a heap. I had to pry each little corpse apart, delicately, one at a time. Down the barrel of my microscope the petri dish was filled with yellow stripes and cellophane wings, stray heads and dispossessed parts. How lovely, I thought, to see nature up close.
Then in the middle of the pile, underneath the furry abdomen of a bee, a set of small black legs began to wiggle. These insects had been stewing for two weeks, ever since I had swept them up in my net from the late-summer goldenrod and dumped their squirming bodies into a calm bath of ethanol. They should have been very much dead.
But the legs kept wiggling. Pushing the bee aside, a small wasp head emerged, yellow-painted with large black eyes, quivering. The tiny wasp crawled up on the pile of bodies like a shipwrecked sailor on a sandy shore. I shook the dish to knock it back under.
“Savage! What gives you the right to kill?” the small wasp yelled when it surfaced again. Continue reading