In Residence

29 December, 2015 (12:09) | | By: admin

In autumn, field mice moved inside

our rented hundred-year-old house gnawed new holes in every room, every box of crackers, pasta, cereal and rice.

Our manuscripts were shredded lace for tiny cradles, winding sheets. Despite the landlord’s stern advice, I set no traps or bait: God’s creatures.

Near the abandoned hen house where turkey vultures raised their single chick
(ungainly, ugly, fluffy, anxious to make friends)
until the landlord drove them out,

now a six-foot black snake sheds his skin.
Translucent, whole, this goes on the shelf with arrowheads, fossil shells, otter skulls.
Then I gather up the glistening prize, coil

by muscled coil. He wraps me in obsidian
necklaces and crowns. I carry him inside, ignore the squealing guests, point him toward the hole above the stove.

“Go for it, pal!” Unsure, he sways,
then catches on, tries the hole for size, inch by inch uncoils his endless neck…
The final rubber tail flicks, disappears.

Seasons pass. No more signs of mice though generations must have fled
chilling gardens, sheds and fields,
sought our deceptive shelter.

He surely lengthened, thickened till unfit
to exit any hole. Too satisfied to try?
Odd slitherings in ceilings, walls,
confirm his steady presence on the jo

I don’t inform the landlord. We move,
he reclaims his house, keeps in tenuous touch.
“I’ve plugged old holes,” he writes. “No complaints
of wintered mice.” No mention of my snake.