One winter the basement flooded
and mice invaded the kitchen, so I laid

baited traps in the lower cabinets
and waited. Back then, I worked all day

stringing rafters, framing the roofs
of houses I couldn’t imagine buying,

then stopped on the way home to drink
a pitcher or two with friends at the tavern

and pick up a six-pack to finish after dinner.
I liked cooking, but I wasn’t so big

on washing dishes. Usually I just left them
stacked up in the sink. I’d been reading

The Brothers Karamazov, pushing a little farther
into it each night—feet on the hearth, a blanket

around my shoulders, the house cold as Moscow—
and when the first mouse found the cheese

I was half asleep. I might have missed the sound
of the wire snapping down on his neck

if the kill had been clean, but it wasn’t.
In fact, it took that mouse a good ten minutes

to die. I don’t remember where I was
in The Brothers Karamazov, but the mouse

was in the empty cereal drawer,
flopping around, rattling the platform

of his trap against the walls and floor
of the dark, little room he had crept into,

looking, I guess, for something better than what he had,
something he might use to improve his situation.

:: Joseph Green, in Vox Populi