The woman drove the mouse miles away, demanded he forget
the taste of the kitchen crumbs, the smell of the yard air,
the exact coordinates of the house. She’d taken a screwdriver
to the top of his shoebox, carved him a Little Dipper
for breathing. His starlight, our sun. His Polaris
the biggest hole. She thought about the power
of holding his entire night in her hands. No axis but her grip.
No moon pull and tides in this dark flight, just a walk
on her legs into far-off woods. And although the mouse
was convinced dark had fallen at 2 p.m., he knew a real night
couldn’t be run from end to end. Had some sense of the earth
as a round thing. Could comprehend what cardboard was.
But whether or not he walked he was moved. A sudden morning
clattered and he was tipped from tractionlessness
onto ground again. The woman said goodbye. The mouse’s feet
whispered back against wet leaves, their scent sharp but unfamiliar:
a new kind of old rot. Solitude. Hours later, night grew. It was
a gradual delivery, a temporary hush. The woman thought
again about the box, abandoned in her trunk. She smiled at the quiet
of her cabinets, the clever way she gave the mouse a world to discover
and gave herself peace. And isn’t that what power does:
if you have it you decide who stays, you define what’s wild and tame.