I live half-time in western Massachusetts and Chapel Hill, NC. Good friends and good poetry in both places, so always a little torn. I am “still” (at a time of life when “still” is too often a qualifier) working in high tech (after a first-career in educational reform); married, terrific step-children. Poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Tiferet (2016 Poetry Award), other journals; first book, The Scheme of Things, David Robert Books 2015. For more information, please visit my website, www.hildeweisert.com.
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.
“The Mouse Upstairs” was first published in the Cumberland Poetry Review (Spring 1994)
© 2018 Hilde Weisert
© 2018 Hilde Weisert
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