Ode to a Floating Rat


With great surprise did I see you last Wednesday as I crossed the State Street bridge towards my riverside tower home, bobbing in the murky water, belly up, tail splayed out behind you, triangular snout pointing forever forward, like a dead furry arrow.

Was it rat poision that took your life, or the gasoline slick blossoming from the Marina City boat dock to surround you in its shiny goo as it floated, prismatic and obvious, up the river to Dearborn?

I’d like to think you checked out in a more glorious manner. A broom to the head from a scared Polish maintenance woman? A jump from the tower following an ill-fated rodent romance? Perhaps simple ennui, like a grande old dame from Astor refusing to awake to face another day without a Republican in the governor’s mansion?

However you died, you evidently lived well. You were big, and fat, and very bouyant. Almost more of a spectacle than the river’s shiny gasoline carpet. In honor of your passing, I bowed my head in silent prayer and ignored the Marina Valdez event playing out around your proudly stiff body.

But from now on, I’m keeping the Chicago Department of the Environment on speed dial.

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