iii. The Blood Meal
Up to four males have been found feeding on one female Ixodes holocyclus tick…
Seek a host, dig in, and swell,
The males, spermatophores with legs,
don’t even feed.
Their stubby mouthparts useless on a mammal host
They climb aboard their mate’s immobile bulk:
the doomed stealing from the unborn.
We don’t pick the winners in this game,
just set the level field and watch them run.
Unkind, perhaps, but fair:
You’ll know the strong by how they thrive.
Each womb’s a feeding ground where
sharp-toothed embryos first learn to hunt.
Of eighty fry, just two survive to birth,
their brothers sacrificed to bring them up to size.
We know the strong by how they thrive.