perhaps with a bat,
then a pangolin—a creature with a long snout
and scales like an armadillo--
that snuffs up the bat’s droppings.
Then perhaps people capture the pangolin
and sell it at a crowded market
to someone else who eats it or uses it
as medicine. Another animal virus
spreads to humans in China--
the world’s second-largest economy.
On the other hand, I’ve read
that Chinese medicine’s misunderstood--
ancient experts wrote that eating wild beasts
can make you sick. Yet people
went the other way.
Remember the three witches in Macbeth?
They were brewing eye of newt and toe of frog,
but the real danger came from
how Macbeth heard their prophesy.
They never said he could kill the king—and live.
Jacqueline Coleman-Fried is a poet and essayist living in Tuckahoe, NY.