Rose Kelleher

How Ticklishness Evolved

What danger does he shrink from, when my nail
skitters across the boundary of his tan —
a tiger’s whisker-tip, a scorpion’s tail?
What wriggler wrecked a cave bear’s dinner plan
by waking up the world’s first ticklish man?

Maybe it was a spider’s needle feet
that triggered that first trembling retreat;
perhaps the flicking of a serpent’s tongue,
or something more insidious and sweet,
whose touch was feather-soft before it stung.