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Hilde Weisert

Hilde Weisert is co-founder of this Society. "One Mouse" was first published in The Cumberland Review and "The Mouse Upstairs" in The Charlotte Poetry Review.

One Mouse

He's here, we'd say, and mull a day
or two, and set a trap.
And find him in the morning, pinker
than you'd expect, fragile.

And the next time
He's back, we'd say, remarking
on what he liked to eat,
and what he left alone,
and how he had reminded us
it was getting cold outside
at night now, and cold
in the morning too.
Time for a jacket, for checking
the wood; time for a mouse
to come inside. For us
to set another trap,

To find him again in the morning, thinner
than we remembered, small and smooth
as a baby's foot.

October. Five traps
and one mouse, one mouse
we imagined was ours,
and kept killing.

The Mouse Upstairs

When we found him – found he'd been
living on the second floor, in our bathroom,
in my cosmetics drawer, among your shaving things,
We said, This has gone too far.
This is war.

All right, you expect the kitchen, crackers,
cookies, rice, there's some purpose
to it, some need. But soap and bandaids
in a place where you often walk naked?
And the second floor?

It has to stop or we'll start feeling
squalid, people who get dressed
in squalor. It's our self-respect
now, not our food.

This is what drives me as I kneel
on the bathroom floor, jars and things
all over the tile, swabbing the vacuum nozzle
in crevices, feeling squalid
just having to do it, kneel there, listen
to the tiny clatter erasing him,
what drives me as I lift out the bottom drawer,
expecting more of the same, not a pile
of Q-tips, cotton balls, bits of soap
and bandaid threads.

In fact, it is not a pile.
It is, I see now, something almost arranged,
the Q-tips like a foundation.
There is order, or the beginning of order.

A project. The beginning
of a project, the damned innocence
of beginning. Why, for a moment I stop
and bite my lip hard enough to bleed,
seeing the wrong thing, myself,
and you, and all of us, damned mouse,
in these small, under-the-sink beginnings,
in this out-of-Q-tip-and-cotton-ball making,
and not in the large, sweeping hand.

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