Poem with One Fact

“At pet stores in Detroit, you can buy  
frozen rats
for seventy-five cents apiece, to feed  
your pet boa constrictor”
back home in Grosse Pointe,
or in Grosse Pointe Park,
while the free nation of rats
in Detroit emerges
from alleys behind pet shops, from cellars  
and junked cars, and gathers
to flow at twilight
like a river the color of pavement,
and crawls over bedrooms and groceries  
and through broken
school windows to eat the crayon  
from drawings of rats—
and no one in Detroit understands  
how rats are delicious in Dearborn.
If only we could communicate, if only  
the boa constrictors of Southfield  
would slither down I-94,
turn north on the Lodge Expressway,  
and head for Eighth Street, to eat  
out for a change. Instead, tomorrow,
a man from Birmingham enters  
a pet shop in Detroit
to buy a frozen German shepherd  
for six dollars and fifty cents  
to feed his pet cheetah,
guarding the compound at home.
Oh, they arrive all day, in their  
locked cars, buying
schoolyards, bridges, buses,  
churches, and Ethnic Festivals;  
they buy a frozen Texaco station
for eighty-four dollars and fifty cents
to feed to an imported London taxi  
in Huntington Woods;
they buy Tiger Stadium,
frozen, to feed to the Little League  
in Grosse Ile. They bring everything  
home, frozen solid
as pig iron, to the six-car garages
of Harper Woods, Grosse Pointe Woods,  
Farmington, Grosse Pointe
Farms, Troy, and Grosse Arbor—
and they ingest
everything, and fall asleep, and lie
coiled in the sun, while the city  
thaws in the stomach and slides
to the small intestine, where enzymes  
break down molecules of protein  
to amino acids, which enter
the cold bloodstream.
Other works by Donald Hall ...