A mouse on the run,
its wet-bead eyes bursting,
fast along the wainscot,
into corners, under bags,
behind a pile of books.

The cat, balletic in fur,
rears up, arcs and drops,
pinning this leaf-breath,
dry litter, for half a moment
again and again.

The game is there in his forward ears,
his bunched cheeks and whiskers.
The mouse scuttles and shrinks.
As it begins to slow,
failing, a minute stagger,

the cat rubs his face on it,
a savage, momentary love.
I grab the mouse by the tail.
Its seed-heart skitters against
my hand, trapped, too hot.

It empties its innards into my palm,
yellowish, black, smelling of blood.
The cat walks off, tail high.
I abandon the mouse
where the wet grass ends

in the junk of compost
and garden tools,
afraid to watch
this small ending in the house:
complicit. Excited.

Beatrice Garland

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