Mouse in April’s Winter

by Alison Armstrong-Webber
The Waters
Honorable Mention, June 2018
Judged by R.T. Castleberry

The tremulous force in leaf litter, little claw feet.
Deathless brown oak leaves, the iris-thatched gulch,
a mycelium feast, underfoot— Creek sway, up-swollen.

Of all the places I have stepped this winter, Make my way
up Cedarvale ravine to your Valleyview rooms a force—
Rooms diminished to one room, to a room at Grace, your body‘s

turn a turn you cannot untwist from, unless given the help
you never wanted—— Medically assisted dying
is snatched away, we are reduced to medicating so you will not

go lost, go mad, losing the mind you feel yourself losing,
as you cry, How do I do this? Help me. Oh, no, oh no.
You call me by your sisters’ names, as one person,

and want me to get a message to Alison. I will.
Opening your mouth like a bird, waiting, I place
on your ruined tongue sections of mandarin, for thirst.

You say, we need “wisdom”, when i ask what I can do
for you. The elephant has given up self-portraiture,
all such contrived, imposed ideas, modesty, slanting lines.

The chain on its foot is the charm’s tinkle in a windless roar.
The elephant hears the merest footsteps of a mouse,
I read, at home, from The People’s Almanac.

And this re-ignites me.
A red fox trips lightly down Relmar Gardens hill,
as if to greet me returning from your empty apartment,

sun setting, white sky, soon to visit you again, at Grace
with shirts you can not pull off. The feel of the crocheted clip
on my grandmother’s fox stole catches in my throat, just

for a second— then the fox is passing me, we two,
passing one another with ease— It carries in the satchel
of its mouth softly unhinged, a rounded spattering

of white and grey, that image a zoom, I have camera eyes— !
could swear I’m becoming cyborg, or simply, Are there
new softwares being inserted into the grey in my head?

I have detected a delicate mechanics that skitters in place,
can clearly see now the feathery smear of brown blood,
and the strangest suggestion of a newborn kit, —

almost jubilation, for the fox carries the unknown
bird, with such safety, such care, then slips with it beneath
a solid black fence, to a house in a house,

and I can zoom— to the mouse’s glimmer of a past, glinting
wires, the same damp -from a shuddering sleep- wafer
as always, that could expertly, skillfully

slip through a crack between bones of the house
and the cage’s floor.