Jar of Scorpions

by Ada Limón

Ada Limón

Translucent and slithering against the beige carpet,
like a dozen fugitive ideas shoved to the back

of the brain's border—the ideas about hurting yourself
or hurting others—they came into view, the filaments

of nightmares, the stinging slopsuckers, the venomous miscreants,
two pedipalps grasping for prey already in the first hours

of their birth. How strange to think nearly thirty years later, I see
those nascent scorpions as clear as today's dead moth

stuck to the screen's small squares. We did what children do
with tiny and terrible things, we trapped them so we could see

more closely, intimately, investigate their particular evil doing,
behind the thick clear glass of the mason jar. We watched

how they crawled, stingers readied, on top of one another, circling.
Our discovery felt awful, like unearthing mortality, torture, war.

We were two girls then, and despite our restless fear
we could not bring ourselves to kill them, we grew almost

fond of the way they scurried against the glass, the way they became
almost ours—minuscule marauders, all things of the night captured

in the light's unforgiving reveal. We do not know what happened to them.
We left the scorplings in the middle of the floor in the glass with a sign,

that said, simply, Jar Of Scorpions. This is where it ends. Or begins.
What do you want for them? From here, we can make it up.

Last updated March 29, 2023