The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 17, Number 6
Nov 1993


St. Nicholas Meets Them
[Another Visit From St. Entropy]

Perpetrated by Sally Shelton and John Simmons

'Twas the Night before Christmas, and throughout the museum
Not a creature was stirring--not where I could see 'em.
The snap traps were set by the chimney with care,
But nary a rodent would set foot in there.
The specimens nestled all snug in their cases,
And bits of Vapona strips hung in their places.
The moon on the crest of the newfallen snow
Glittered on D-Con I'd scattered below.
Visiting hours had long since elapsed,
And all the curators were down for their naps,
When thousands of tiny feet set up a patter
And I knew, without looking, just what was the matter.
There were mice in the cases and lice in the books,
Ants in the windows and flies in the nooks.
Nothing could stop these invincible pests
As they chewed through the holdings like permanent guests.
I needed the Raid or the Flit or the swat,
I'd even tried stomping them flat on the spot.
But nothing availed, and I thought I'd surrender
When I heard a strange sound like a moose on a bender.
And then, with a thud and a bump and a squealing,
St. Nicholas plunged down right through the false ceiling.
He spoke not a word 'til he'd got his breath back,
And then he stook up and he opened his pack
(Which, sadly, had taken the weight of his fall)
And proudly announced he had something for all.
He put on his goggles, he put on his mask,
He picked up his manual and lept to the task.
He chased down the beetles and rodents and flies
And anything else that was less than his size.
He put them to sleep reading MSDSs
And vacuumed away all their nests and their messes.
He swept all the sleeping pests into a sack,
Wrapped them up tightly (he had a great knack)
And promised they wouldn't get injured or nervous
But would go to the Pole for community service.
He fired from his caulk gun a silicone stream
That filled all the cracks and closed off every seam.
He threw out the house plants, put sweeps on the doors
(Which kept out the sound of the curators' snores),
Then he borrowed a ladder and climbed through the hole,
And called to the reindeer, who'd started to loll,
"On Booklouse, Dermestid, on Clothes Moth and Cricket!"
And away they all flew, just like hares to a thicket.
But as they arose, why, I heard something snap,
And away flew one reindeer with hoof in a trap.
And I heard him exclaim ere he rose out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to ZAP!" as he hit the bug light.
And as he flew off with his red cap yet whirring,
It was finally true: not a creature was stirring.

[Editor's note: Although the Season is past, it is still fresh in our memories, and getting this in print now will make it available in good time for conservation lab bulletin boards everywhere next year.

The author explained to me over the phone that the last few lines of her Christmas poem in the last issue alluded to an accidental confusion she once experienced. Someone had referred to a platypus as a monotreme, which it is: the dictionary says a monotreme is any of an order of lower mammals comprising the duckbills and echidnas. But she heard the word as "monitoring," and has associated the platypus with monitoring equipment ever since.]

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