The Mouse by Jeff Oaks
A heart as small as. An eye as black and alive. An impossible
leafprint of a foot. Large sensitive ears, just as. Against the house
settling or the furnace kicking on or the refrigerator’s ice supply
refilling or the knock of the washing machine’s water. Those feet
made of rice grain, of the chaff of rice, as small. For months, there
was this stir at the corners of my eyes. I’d turn and it would be
nothing. Maybe the guy next door died or something. I thought, a
ghost. As if a pigeon flew between the sunlight and the back win-
dow again. I blinked the startle away. Then one day I opened the
drawer full of silverware. The pills of its waste like lint. The mid-
den I’d become. I held my breath and my heart began to pound.
Down among the pipes and centipedes. Nights, at the light click,
it runs right into a crack and through. As a thief if the space is safe
enough. In the dim light of the middle of my life. As I am making
decisions about what to do.
“The Mouse” from Little What (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2019). Reprinted with permission by the author.
Jeff Oaks is the author of a full-length collection, Little What (Lily Poetry Review Books, 2019) and also four chapbooks, The Unknown Country, The Moon of Books, Shift, and Mistakes with Strangers. He has published poems in a number of literary magazines, including Assaracus, Best New Poets, Field, Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Superstition Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. A recipient of a Pittsburgh Foundation Grant and three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, he teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.