Once in ninth grade
my class huddled together
as the science teacher lowered a mouse by its tail
into the snake terrarium.
My peers whooped and hollered,
their faces bright with horrific glee
as I, social recluse, finally saw it:
the ring of humanity,
and how I existed on its fringes.
Neither the feeder nor the fed,
but the observer
of the violent order of things,
wringing her hands and watching in mute horror
as life swallows itself.