There’s a mouse in the wall and it’s chewing at the wood. The mouse doesn’t mind if I bang there, get up out of bed, and pound around its whereabouts. It pauses between my banging sometimes then starts again, chewing. Other times, throughout my own noises, it keeps chewing on the wood. I’m not even sure if it’s joists or rafters it’s after, but after all, to a mouse I suppose it’s all the same. I want to kill this mouse and can’t so I get up; it’s long before five in the morning, long before even my dreams having finished dreaming for the night. They must have been somewhere between fretful and fitful to have been awakened so easily. I can’t even imagine why the mouse is chewing there. It’s only wood. And what good is that, even to a mouse? There are no seeds, no food, anywhere. I buried the sack of sunflower far away from even my house where neither bluebirds singing nor black bears sifting through the brown forest leaves will ever find them. I put them there despite my fondness for both. I had thought: maybe this once, maybe this one time out of an entire sack of seed a single stalk with a giant yellow bloom in summertime will grow, before the cut-worm gnaws the seedlings down in the dirt. I’d like to think it possible but rather doubt it. Still, this little creature working its little mind away for no apparent and no particular purpose, it would seem, has stirred a little poetic vice in me that I have known. And I’d prefer, though I am sleepy yet, to be knocked away by some interrupting stranger, a little beast of any kind will do, or a sheriff’s hand at worst, to be alone before all this gleaming blackness, than slipping off one day into the night.
I knew a man once who looked at a painted wall and said, “I see the Peloponnesian War in the cracks.” I knew a man once who looking through a handheld telescope held reversed saw the world of the Ancient Greeks. I knew a woman once who told me, “Modern punctuation is a scourge.” I was told once by a shop clerk in France that the jacket she had slipped over my shoulders was “tres chouette.” And I had heard the old ladies in a beauty parlor long ago gabbing that my hair was so thick. My kindergarten teacher had sent me a note in the mail one time, in perfect light blue script, years after she had cracked up, to “. . .remember me to your family.” And a gay barista in Amsterdam had told me that I wasn’t a beauty but I had something. My mother’s friend, half conked out on vodka, said I was the apple of my mother’s eye. And also, I was told by someone I can’t remember that the Chinese can do subtraction and addition faster on an abacus than on a calculator and watched it happen once in New York, how fast it was, when I was small. This tiny list of memories are almost like dreams now slipping away moments after waking from my sleep. At nighttime’s break, when all the voices who have pronounced these things are gone, I wonder someday in my absence where the violets I once grew will slumber on.