Hemichordate musings

By Karma Nanglu

I was preparing my acorn worms (Hemichordate enteropneusts) in individual glass containers for my upcoming experiment, when I noticed one was trying to crawl its way out.  I’d seen a few worms outside of their bowls before so I knew they could escape into the surrounding water but it had never been an issue.  I just gently tossed them back in the next day.  However, I had never seen one so actively engaged in an escape attempt.  I was suddenly struck by a thought. 

Escaping Saccoglossus pusillus  Credit K Nanglu

Escaping Saccoglossus pusillus Credit K Nanglu

“How long had this primitive creature struggled up the side of its glass prison, and in search of what?  I had provided it with the sweet circulating water of its native home and the coarse sedimentary filth upon which it feeds.  But what does any man truly know of the needs of these foreign creatures?  Of the deep yearnings of their hemichordate souls?  Does it stretch ever outward in search of lost love, for the warm embrace of its kin?  Those without mouths must also scream, and does this sad, lonely creature silently scream for the promises of a better life?”

A moot point, I thought then.  For the purposes of my experiment, it mustn’t leave the confines of its transparent gulag.  As I considered the worm, a look devoid of compassion or condemnation passed my face as I recalled Oppenheimer quoting the Hindu text “Baghavad-Gita” when questioned about his participation in the development of the nuclear bomb.  With forceps forged of cold, merciless steel I flung the worm back into the glass and whispered:

“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Credit K Nanglu

Credit K Nanglu

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