Letter to a Cockroach, Now Dead and Mixed into a Bar of Chocolate

Matthew Olzmann

Regulations allow for, on average, sixty insect fragments
per hundred grams of chocolate
in America. You are pulverized.
The thorax, the head, the legs that no longer twitch.
Invisible and milk-smooth.
Nothing harbors a secret like sweetness.

Centuries ago, the Sirens understood
this statute. Each sunk their knowledge
inside a voice of chimes and kisses,
hiding the ocean’s stone teeth
in a mouth of mist and foam.

Yesterday, waves beat against a dock in Brazil.
The quick bodies of you and your buddies
quivered across the cargo of cacao beans.
You couldn’t possibly comprehend: the beans
on their way to the grinder, just as those ancient sailors
couldn’t envision—beyond the Sirens’ music—
the broken mast, the shattered hull.

Today is Valentine’s Day. I walk to the store
to buy a box of chocolate for my wife.
As I walk, I have no idea whose hands
made the shoes that hug my feet,
or why the produce at the supermarket
glows like numbers on the stock exchange.

There is sweetness in this world,
but it has a price. You are the price.

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