The mice of the mother’s house had tiny faces and breathed
behind the paint, skittering like ticket stubs between
floorboards, light and anxious. A few had small subway-car
bodies tunneling fast, pushing roughshod over the grouting, nosing
the dust of their brothers’ wake, cheeky, whiskery.
They loosed the interior wiring of the wall, their sharp eyes darting,
plaster-flecked, looking, for a moment, filled with snow.
In winter, the mother’s house swayed and shuddered with their
rustling. Hundreds of secret feet. One sped from under the piano
(gauntly hunched like an angel on all fours in its shiny black overcoat).
Mice-racket rocked the crystal chandelier. Mice-mildew
plumbed the good fixtures. Some veered back into the ice-
wrecked field, into stones with frozen, dirty mouths.
They were wounded by hammered nails, deafened by the brass
bull she hurled into the wall past the father’s shaded face. The battery
of fists bellied their winding rooms, cracking their foyers. Their throats
filled with saw-scruff, grew dry and lost from crying
such little cries. From living hidden lives. Ringed by their brethren’s
bodies and bones, gnawed corks. Ringed by what they had half-
chewed—the tattery fringe of the page.
Nothing she did derailed them. They snarled in wire, their
desiccate pink feet stiff like tiny spokes, the little wheels
of their hearts awry. They lived overhead and beyond—
inaccessible, inviolate. Faintly panting in their closing cloud.