After months of chasing the kitchen mice―
live traps, upended bowls, tinny sonar devices―
the stress made me board up the whole kitchen.
We would eat everything with plastic silverware,
spend our emergency fund on food drops.
Instead, we let the landlord take a try.
He comes the day after we go home
for the weekend to have drinks
in the same damn bars we snuck into in high school
even though we moved to a bigger city
with different people, better bars,
and parts of the street that still sparkle with glitter.
It is after dusk. I am unpacking
the suitcase when I find her there.
I hear the humming, a tiny
ritual song; I feel it in my fillings,
underneath my toenails.
Her wing is pasted down in the glue trap,
like in a scrapbook, surreal, too separate.
The other wing creaks movement, but
it’s faint, a flag on a calm day.
She is pinned to the mat,
her tiny hands too much like mine.
She has been here too long,
struggle finished, prayers said.
I rush to the cupboard, pour
vegetable oil mixed with hope.
Maybe she can free herself.
This is not that poem.
I bury her in the yard. Unsure of what
to do with the wing, I lay it beside her.
I will let the mice take the kitchen.
Mackenzie Bush lives in Grand Rapids, MI. She likes haunted locations and blue nail polish. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in What Fresh Witch Is This?, The NW, and Spectral Lines: Poems about Scientists. You can follow her on Twitter @mackenzierbush
Artwork: William Henry Fox Talbot, Insect wings, as seen in a solar microscope, c 1840.