One long and unhappy winter we learned
we had a mouse. It seemed to be everywhere

yet nowhere, a presence scenting our rooms
with blame and fat, neat turds

that told the story of its birth from soil. Each night
from the walls it gnawed and through which it hurried

to and from where I could only guess, it spoke to me
whispering words I barely understood:

qu’est ce que tu fais avec ta vie, si petite, si lâche?
and I saw my life as small and bleak.

So, of course I had to kill her.
There are many ways to catch a mouse

and kill it, each with its own moral complexities.
Poison is painful and dirty business, Hitchcockian:

how quick the death? where does the carcass decompose?
For expediency and cheapness, I settled on glue traps.

Within days I heard a rustling under the cabinet—
there she was, silent

soft as floss, orbs dense as lead
staring, unblinking

glued down in multiple spots were her nose,
three of her paws, and the tip of her tail, but also

fixed to the trap beneath the arc of her tail,
the two-inch wide chord to our air conditioner.

In French, she finally said in perfect, accented English,
the word for ‘mouse’, souris, is identical to smile

as in ‘I smile’, je souris. I tried to smile
but could not. You have a few choices,

she continued, slice the chord then kill me
or, how do you say it? Oh yes, hack!—hack
my tail, then kill me. I believe I saw her smile.
Either way, she said, I will be released,
but you, my friend, what about you?

Mouse Smile by Marietta Brill

Photo used under CC.